Show us the FILM!
Tyree | San Diego, USA | 07/02/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"There's just enough footge to keep this from being a total waste, but WHAT a disappointment!
All the usual talking heads - Andrew Sarris, Peter Bogdanovich, Leonard Maltin, etc - babble away in full color, portrait-sized glory while the scraps of WWII film are rationed like T-bone steaks. Maybe there were rights issues involved, but how dare somebody title this "John Ford Goes to War" when it's only the most cheapo collection of 50-year-later yak festooned all over a pitiful handful of the subject matter?
Wait until a truly representative selection of Ford's massive WWII output is released unedited and - one can only hope! - un-commented upon.
Full print of Ford's award-winning
James Bowen | Melbourne, Australia | 01/18/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Being an admirer of John Ford's great western films, including "The Searchers", "She wore a yellow Ribbon", and "Fort Apache", I was interested to learn more about the character of this great American director as revealed in this DVD.
However, my compelling reason for acquiring the DVD was the inclusion of a copy of John Ford's Academy Award-winning "Battle of Midway" as an "Extra". This film has become very difficult to obtain through commercial sources.
Pacific War history buffs who would like to add John Ford's magnificent "Battle of Midway" to their DVD libraries may be interested to hear my opinion that the transfer from the original 16 millimetre film shot by Ford during the Japanese attack on Midway Atoll in June 1942 is excellent. The running time is 18 minutes. The print is reasonably sharp considering its source was a 16mm film. The colour is excellent. I found print wear and tear to be minimal and unobtrusive. In my opinion, inclusion of an excellent copy of "The Battle of Midway" fully justified the cost of this DVD.
Those who would like to place John Ford's film in its historical context, may wish to visit my Battle of Midway web-site at: [...]"
John Ford goes to war...and I went to sleep
Julian Kennedy | St Pete Florida | 10/18/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
John Ford Goes to War: 4 out of 10: This is almost a textbook example on how to take a fascinating subject and make a boring documentary out of it.
John Ford Goes to War highlights Fords extraordinary service during World War 2 when he and his various crews filmed the war from Midway to India to Burma to Normandy, and even the war trials afterwards. Its like a real life Winds of War. Ford himself carried the hand held camera on Midway as bombs landed just feet away from Japanese planes. He had a telephone in one hand calling in enemy positions to headquarters while he filmed with the other.
A fascinating story like this should make for a fascinating documentary... it doesnt.
For one thing the movie seems to be under the mistaken impression that World War 2 took place in the 1840s not the 1940s. Now I know Ford was best known for his westerns but this film isnt about his westerns it is about his work during WW2. In addition Fords personal life at this time was more Jimmy Buffet than Eddie Dean. So who do they get narrating the film? Kris Kristofferson.
Kristoffersons slow around the campfire drawl hits the viewer like a fistful of barbiturates and the along the trail Civil War era musical score doesnt help either. And then we have the talking heads. The endless talking heads.
You would think that a film that can use dramatic footage from The Battle of Midway" or December 7th or moving footage such as the smiling faces of the doomed crew of Torpedo Squadron wouldnt cut away every minute, from the hours of available footage, to show some guy talking... and you would be wrong.
Peter Bogdanovich and Leonard Maltin come across the best (though would it have killed Maltin to shave? I have I High Definition Television I really appreciate some personal hygiene before you get on camera.) Most of the others are people who wrote books and honestly should continue to write books.
They do interview an actual cameraman who shot footage for Ford during the war. His experience is insightful, touching and moving so of course he is only on once for less than a minute.
Anytime the documentary does show footage of Fords work, it seems to realize you may be getting interested and quickly swerves into another talking head. This teasing us into a complacency of enjoyment and engagement before another talking head breaks the mood is a strange form of narrative waterboarding. Its as if the movie has a puritan streak that wishes you not to actually enjoy yourself.
Speaking of a strange puritan streak... I have left the best for last. Apparently John Ford ran over Oliver Stones kitten while backing out of his driveway in 1971. There is almost no other explication for Stones bizarre vitriol against the man. Apparently if Stone was a filmmaker in 1940 he would have been doing documentaries on how the Japanese are victims of American Expansionism and how the D-Day invasion at Normandy was yet another example of American Colonialism.
I would normally say hearing Stone rail against Ford for being historically inaccurate would be worth the price for admission. But alas no. The viewer is better off... much better off finding Fords original documentaries uncut. (And if you want to see Stones version of historical accuracy I believe Alexander has a new 240 minute cut available on DVD)