Turner Classic Movies is obliging on Dec. 10-11 with a sked of nine Ford pics -- some well-known, some less so -- to coincide Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's Dec. 4 release of nirvana in a box for Ford fanatics with $300 to spare. The "Ford at Fox" DVD box set encompasses 24 pics the helmer did during his days on the Century City lot, plus the docu "Becoming John Ford" from Nick Redman and all kinds of other trimmings: a photo book, lobby card reproductions, etc. etc.
The TCM marathon unfolds over two nights, starting Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. with a little-seen 1931 comedy "Up the River" starring Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart and Claire Luce. The next night opens with the 1941's breathtaking "How Green Was My Valley." If you're not bawling by the end of this Oscar-winner about the struggles of Welsh coal miners, you ain't human.
So if you're not schooled in the Ford milieu, drink some coffee (or something stronger as Ford was wont to sip) and stay up all night, or set the TiVo, or go buy the DVD box set and take your own John Ford seminar this winter. The genius of his spare, un-showy, story-driven cinematic style is hard to describe in words (goodness knows he didn't care for hifalutin' film commentary stuff). You've just gotta have the experience of being sucked in within the first 30 seconds of one of his master works to understand why the eye-patch sporting, pipe-chomping Irishman (by way of Maine) and his pics rank so high on the list of Hollywood's all-time greats.
The TCM sked is posted below:
Turner Classic Movies Presents: "Ford at Fox" Schedule
Monday, Dec. 10
8 p.m.: Up the River (1931) - This rare John Ford comedy stars Spencer
Tracy (in his film debut) and Warren Hymer as convicts trying
to help fellow inmate Humphrey Bogart hook up with Claire Luce.
9:45 p.m.: The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936) - Warner Baxter plays the
famed Dr. Samuel Mudd, who innocently treated John Wilkes Booth
after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. This outstanding
drama features one of the most memorable depictions of
Lincoln's assassination ever put on film.
11:30 p.m.: Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) - This beautiful Technicolor
production stars Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda in a story
about courageous settlers in upstate New York.
1:30 a.m.: Pilgrimage (1933) - One of John Ford's more unusual films, this
one tells the story of a woman who breaks up her son's romance
by sending him off to fight in World War I, only to regret her
actions later. Henrietta Crosman stars.
3:15 a.m.: Four Men and a Prayer (1938) - Four brothers join forces to
unravel the mystery behind the father's murder. George
Sanders, David Niven and Loretta Young star.
8 p.m.: How Green Was My Valley pictured left (1941) - This moving drama about Welsh coal miners earned Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Donald Crisp), Best Screenplay and Best Art Direction. In addition to Crisp, it stars Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, Anna Lee and Roddy McDowall.
10:15 p.m.: Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) - Henry Fonda takes the title role in this sterling drama about Lincoln's struggling early days as a lawyer. Alice Brady co-stars.
Midnight: My Darling Clementine pictured below(1946) - Henry Fonda headlines this exceptional depiction of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the events leading up to it. Linda Darnell, Victor Mature and Walter Brennan co-star, with Joseph P. MacDonald providing the beautiful cinematography.
1:45 a.m.: When Willie Comes Marching Home (1950) - Dan Dailey stars as a
young soldier during World War II in this memorable piece of
Americana co-starring Corinne Calvert and Colleen Townsend.