John Ford Gallery

John Ford, photographed by Richard Day on location during the filming of My Darling Clementine in 1946. Ford signed the mat with the inscription To Dudley... - likely screenwriter and frequent Ford collaborator Dudley Nichols. 

With James Stewart and John Wayne on the set of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

Souvenir program for The Quiet Man (1952), a film for which Ford earned his fourth Academy Award for Best Director, a record that still stands. He also won two Oscars for documentary short subjects, making a grand total of six. 

A 1939 magazine ad for Stagecoach.

“When Kenneth Tynan asked Orson Welles in 1967 which directors he most admired, Welles gave an oft-quoted response: ‘The old masters.  By which I mean John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford.’ In other interviews, Welles elaborated: ‘John Ford was my teacher.  My own style has nothing to do with his, but Stagecoach was my movie textbook.  I ran it over forty times … I wanted to learn how to make movies, and that’s such a classically perfect one.’”

Searching for John Ford, by Joseph McBride (2001)

Stagecoach is the ideal example of the maturity of a style brought to classic perfection . . . Stagecoach is like a wheel, so perfectly made that it remains in equilibrium on its axis in any position. This effect results from the film's concentration on the creation of a tight narrative unity, with all of its elements serving that goal.

- André Bazin

Novelization of Ford's 1924 silent epic, The Iron Horse.

A publicity still for Ford's final feature film, 7 Women (1966), which starred Anne Bancroft, Margaret Leighton, Flora Robson, Sue Lyon, and Eddie Albert.

"I think it's one of my best, but the public didn't like it. It wasn't what they wanted."

- John Ford on 7 WomenCahiers du Cinéma interview.

Henry Fonda in a still from Young Mr. Lincoln (1939).

"[O]f all American films made up to now, [Young Mr. Lincoln] is the film that I would wish, most of all, to have made. . . . It has a quality, a wonderful quality, a quality that every work of art must havean astonishing harmony of all its component parts, a really amazing harmony as a whole."

- Sergei Eisenstein in his essay "Mr. Lincoln by Mr. Ford"

Above and following: scenes from The Searchers (1956). Ford's masterpiece was ranked the 12th best movie of all time in a 2007 American Film Institute poll of 1,500 film artists, critics, and historians. Sight & Sound’s 2012 film critics poll placed it at number 7.

Ford's use of emotions, the actors' changes of expression, are so subtle, so magnificent! I see it once or even twice a year.

- Martin Scorsese on The Searchers

"We may still be waiting for the Great American Novel, but John Ford gave us the Great American Film in 1956. The Searchers gathers the deepest concerns of American literature, distilling 200 years of tradition in a way available only to popular art, and with a beauty available only to a supreme visual poet like Ford."

- Dave Kehr

“My opinion was that [Ford] was the best director in the picture business.”

- Howard Hawks

Ad for They Were Expendable (1945), one of Ford’s finest. This bleak, sublime picture about the bitter U.S. defeat in the Philippines early in WWII embodies what Peter Bogdanovich refers to as Ford’s penchant for depicting “[T]he glory in defeat or noble failure.”

Entrance to a theater showing an early Ford picture, The Ace of the Saddle (1919), starring Ford's friend and collaborator Harry Carey. 

Lobby card for Ford's lyrical, poignant Pilgrimage (1933).

The legendary producer Darryl F. Zanuck once said Ford was the best director in the history of motion pictures, “ . . . because Ford’s placement of the camera almost had the effect of making even good dialogue unnecessary or secondary.” 

Above (clockwise, from top left): Stagecoach (1939), Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), The Long Voyage Home (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941). Below: The Searchers (1956). 

“(Ford’s) famously stubborn refusal to elucidate himself of his work or to admit that what he did had anything to do with art honors the audience. Art implies intellect, which is unequally distributed, and Ford demands emotion, which ruthlessly seeks out the common denominator in us all. The implication is that if he has your heart, your mind will follow, if only afterward as the justification for losing your emotional grip.”

- Warning Shadows: Home Alone With Classic Cinema, by Gary Giddins (2010)

Lobby card for The Sun Shines Bright (1953), a small film that was a favorite of Ford's.

German program for the expressionistic The Informer (1935), which landed Ford his first Best Director Oscar.

Two-page magazine ad for Fort Apache, the first of Ford's unofficial Cavalry Trilogy, 1948.
The painting is by noted illustrator Harold von Schmidt.

“There are few great directors and few great poets. John Ford was both a great director and a great poet.”

- Lindsay Anderson

Ford on location at Jefferson Military College in Mississippi for The Horse Soldiers, with Anna Lee, William Holden, John Wayne, and Constance Towers, 1959. 

The comic book version of The Horse Soldiers

“People are incorrect to compare a director to an author. If he’s a creator, he’s more like an architect. And an architect conceives his plans according to precise circumstances.”

- John Ford

Ford, photographed for the November 1953 cover of Films in Review while on location in Africa directing Mogambo. The film revitalized Clark Gable's waning career and made Grace Kelly a star; Ava Gardner later deemed it the pinnacle of her career. 

Newspaper ad for the 1926 Ford silent film, 3 Bad Men.

 Trade ads for 3 Bad Men (1926).

Program cover for Mother Machree (1928).

Belgian window card for Rio Grande (1950).

[Ford] is the one director who is not over-praised. (I think most of us are, a little or a lot.)

- Elia Kazan, in a letter to Joseph McBride, 1975

Three stills from Rio Grande.

“He was really a genius. He’d listen, but if you were smart, you’d listen to him. He knew more about photography than any man who ever worked in the movies. He’d force me into situations where I’d have to sit up and take notice.”

- William H. Clothier, cinematographer on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Donovan’s Reef, and Cheyenne Autumn (interview with Scott Eyman)

Ford's yacht, Araner, in Donovan's Reef, 1963. 

German ad for Ford's allegorical The Fugitive, based on Graham Greene's novel The Power and the Glory and filmed in Mexico (1947).

Magazine ad for How Green Was My Valley, for which Ford won his third Academy Award for Best Director. The movie also garnered Oscars for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Donald Crisp), and Best Black and White Cinematography (Arthur Miller).

Ad for The Long Gray Line (1955).

Will Rogers (right) in Steamboat Round the Bend (1935).

British program for Four Sons (1928).

British sheet music.

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon sheet music, from Ford's film of the same name, 1949. 

Two-page magazine ad for She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, 1949.

Cavalry sergeant's blouse from an unknown Ford film, possibly one or more of his Cavalry Trilogy, Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), and Rio Grande (1950). 

Lobby card for Two Rode Together (1961), starring James Stewart and Richard Widmark. 

Constance Towers Sings to the Horse Soldiers such 20th century standards as "Constantly," "You'd be So Nice to Come Home To," and "Every Time We Say Goodbye," as well as the Civil War-era ballad "Lorena" on this 1959 LP.

Like The Sun Shines Bright, Wagon Master (1950) was a labor of love for Ford. Neither film featured any big name stars.

Two-page magazine ad for Wagon Master.

Lobby card and still from The Last Hurrah (1958), based on Edwin O'Connor's best-selling novel.

Sergeant Rutledge (1960) was Ford's tribute to the Buffalo Soldiers, the African-American troops who served in the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalries in the late 1800s.  

45 rpm promotional single, "Theme from John Ford's 'Sargeant Rutledge'" [sic] (1960).

James Stewart in Ford's elegiac The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

Belgian poster for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The artist apparently used photographs of Wayne and Stewart from earlier films for reference.

Novelization of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, by James Warner Bellah.

A 1958 paperback edition of Gideon's Day mentioning Ford's film version. 

Novelization of The Wings of Eagles, by Walt Grove (1957).

45 rpm single of "Theme from 'The Wings of Eagles'," performed by David Rose and His Orchestra, 1957.

3 Godfathers screenplay, by Peter B. Kyne, 1948.

With Sam Fuller.

A comic book tie-in with The Searchers (1956). 

“John Ford understood the idea of beauty and the beast. He tried to convey the harshness of the land as well as the beauty. In Monument Valley he avoided the temptation to shoot nothing but breathtaking scenery. He had only an occasional beauty shot. They were like diamonds, valuable because they are rare.”

- Winton C. Hoch, cinematographer on She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Quiet Man, and The Searchers.

John Wayne and Lee Marvin, who played deadly enemies in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, became friendly combatants in the tropical Valhalla of Ford’s next feature, the underrated Donovan's Reef (1963).

Critic and director Lindsay Anderson wrote a monograph on Ford for the British Film Institute Index Series in 1955, which was published in Cinema magazine in 1971.

Ford visits director Peter Bogdanovich on the set of What's Up, Doc in 1972. Bogdanovich wrote one of the first studies of Ford's work to be published in book form in 1968, and he wrote and directed the seminal documentary Directed By John Ford in 1971, which he expanded and updated in 2006.

One-sheet poster for Cheyenne Autumn (1964), Ford's final Western and his final film shot in the location that had become almost exclusively associated with him, Monument Valley. 

A Cheyenne Autumn comic book.

Ford in the 1960s. 
Photograph by Samuel Teicher 

A British Military Authority 1 Shilling Note, signed on the reverse by Ford (Commander USNR - Hollywood”) while he was in Tunisia filming the Allied North African Campaign during World War II. On the obverse is the typewritten date December 6, 1942. Joseph McBride, in his biography Searching for John Ford, states that on this date Ford, who had been at the front lines in Tebourba encountering heavy enemy resistance, finally returned to the rear with his men and battle footage. “‘Ford, regardless of danger, took his men where the best camerawork was to be done, OSS [Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the CIA] agent Tom Moon recalled. Many area commanders, not anxious to have these men killed in their area, breathed a sigh of relief as they moved on.’”

I have respected John Ford from the beginning. Needless to say, I pay close attention to his productions, and I think I am influenced by them.

- Akira Kurosawa

One of Ford's credit cards. In May of 1953, he and his wife Mary moved into a home previously owned by the William Wylers at 125 Copa de Oro Road in Bel Air.

Press book for 7 Women (1966). Film critic and author Tag Gallagher calls Ford's last feature film, "[T]he culmination of Ford's vignette methods, where every gesture, every word, every object resonates into the indefinably symbolic." Despite being lauded by European critics, it was a commercial and critical failure in the U.S., promoted as a tawdry thriller by MGM and relegated to the bottom half of a double bill for its New York debut.

Dennis Hopper and John Huston visit Ford in his home where he was convalescing from a broken hip in September 1971.

Wayne and Ford visit Monument Valley one last time for the 1971 television documentary The American West of John Ford.  

Ford, seated with his wife, Mary, is applauded by President and Mrs. Nixon, and Hollywood's elite, on the occasion of his receiving the Medal of Freedom and AFI's first Life Achievement Award, March 31, 1973. 

“With Ford at his best, you get a sense of what the earth is made of.”

- Orson Welles

Ford's "Stock Company"

Ford playing cards with Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Ward Bond. 
Photo by Harriet Arnold, for a 1949 Saturday Evening Post article on Ford by screenwriter/journalist Frank S. Nugent.

Ford’s older brother Francis—shown here in a circa 1915 collectors card—was a successful actor, writer, and director in the early days of motion pictures. As a young man, John, after changing his surname from Feeney to Ford (as Frank had done) learned the ropes as an assistant director, camera operator, stunt man, and actor in his brother’s productions. As Frank’s star faded and John’s rose, the elder sibling became a familiar, usually comic presence playing small parts in nearly all of John’s films until Frank’s death in 1953.

Collector card (circa 1920s) of Harry Carey, John Ford’s primary mentor and collaborator during his formative years as a director, and the star of more than twenty of Ford’s films from 1917-21.

George O’Brien, featured in a 1973 postcard edition of a series of art prints of famous Western stars, painted by Will Williams and endorsed by Ford. O’Brien, who starred in The Iron Horse (1924), was in twelve of the director’s films.

Theater program for Doctor Bull (1933). Will Rogers starred in this and two other Ford features, Steamboat Round the Bend and Judge Priest

He wouldn't tell you what to do, but you'd find yourself doing things that obviously had come from somewhere. It was some kind of thought transference that he did. And I think that's why he liked people who worked with him to be totally absorbed in him as a director... You were the vessel in which he injected what he wanted, and then it sort of flowed out of you.   

- Anna Lee

Ward Bond appeared in two dozen Ford films, starting when he was a student at USC in the late 1920s. 

Jane Darwell won an Academy Award for her memorable portrayal of Ma Joad in Ford's The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Ford won for Best Director.

Left to right: Ford regulars Bond, Mae Marsh, and Darwell in 3 Godfathers (1948). 

Ken Curtis, to the right of the seated John Wayne, was a stalwart in Ford's "stock company," as well as being the director's son-in-law. Dan Dailey, to the right of Curtis, was in three Ford pictures in the 1950s, including The Wings of Eagles (above).

Ford coaxed an Academy Award winning performance out of Victor McLaglen in The Informer (Best Actor, 1935).

McLaglen in The Black Watch, Ford’s first feature length talking picture (1929).

John Agar (left, with Joanne Dru and John Wayne in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon) appeared in two-thirds of Ford's "Cavalry Trilogy."

Harry Carey Jr. followed in his father's acting footsteps and was taken under Ford's wing after the elder Carey passed away, appearing in several of the director's films between 1948 and 1964.

Left to right: John Wayne, Victor McLaglen (with open vest), Claude Jarman Jr., Harry Carey Jr., and Ben Johnson in Rio Grande (1950). 

He has never been afraid of the same old faces on the set and on the screen.  He has always 
been too great and spiritual an artist to seek change through inconstancy.  Hence, though all 
his films age, they never become dated.  John Ford is not merely a man for all seasons, but 
an artist for all time.  

- Andrew Sarris

Maureen O'Hara was a Ford favorite, often paired with Duke Wayne in combative romantic leads in such films as Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, and The Wings of Eagles.

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in The Wings of Eagles, 1957. 

O'Hara with Tyrone Power in The Long Gray Line (1955).

Barry Fitzgerald, O'Hara, and the Duke in The Quiet Man

Former UCLA football star and decathlete Woody Strode, who would become a close friend of Ford’s, played the title roll in Sergeant Rutledge (above). He would also appear in Two Rode TogetherThe Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and 7 Women (1966).

Grateful for the opportunity Ford had given him in Rutledge (Warner Brothers wanted Sidney Poitier or Harry Belafonte), and justly proud of his stirring performance, Strode would tell the New York Times a decade later, “[No one had ever] seen a Negro come off a mountain like John Wayne before. I had the greatest Glory Hallelujah ride across the Pecos River that any black man ever had on the screen. And I did it myself. I carried the whole black race across that river.” 

Henry Fonda, shown here in a still from Fort Apache (1948), starred in seven Ford films between 1939 and 1955. 

“Look at Henry Fonda in My Darling Clementine: motionless and expressionless––there is the greatness of John Ford.  Fonda sits in a chair with his legs propped up on a pillar and a satisfied smile on his face––I really envy that rapport between Ford and Fonda.”

- Yasujirō Ozu

Ford perennial Mildred Natwick with John Wayne in The Long Voyage Home (1940).

“There was a quiet, yet a controlling energy that pervaded (a John Ford) set… it was spiritual.”

- Harry Carey, Jr.

Former Marine Jack Pennick was a part of nearly every Ford production, usually as an extra or bit player, but also as military advisor to Ford and drill sergeant to the actors in the cavalry and war pictures. He can be seen looking over Victor McLaglen's left shoulder in the Rio Grande still shown above, nine images back.

Cliff Lyons was an actor, stuntman and/or second unit director in several Ford films. He played Colonel Greenhill, the cavalry officer who asked Reverend Captain Samuel Clayton (Ward Bond), “You wounded?” during a brief but memorable comic interlude near the end of The Searchers.

Ford, Wayne, and Stewart on location for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

“His was a complex personality, and, indeed, he adored paradox. In himself, in the world, in existence itself, he searched out contradictions dear and dreadful to beggar his comprehension. Like any well-raised Irish Catholic, he strove compulsively to be a saint and to understand. Such understanding entails reconciling irreconcilables.”

- John Ford: The Man and His Films, by Tag Gallagher (1986)

Promotional photo from The American West of John Ford (CBS).

Further reading: 

Filmmaker Richard Franklin's overview of Ford and recommended viewing list.

Film critic and author Tag Gallagher's essay on Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln

Film and music critic and author Gary Giddins' review of the Ford at Fox DVD box set.  

All items are from the collection of Jon Oye 
All original photos remain the property of their respective Copyright owners.