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John Ford's themes and styles

Place writes, "In the later pictures, the nuclear family is in conflict with and nearly destroyed by the structured context, as in . . . Rio Grande. The society cannot fill the needs of individuals within it, either inside or outside the family context" (60). While Ford presents a fairly bleak view of the individual's search for meaning in all three films, he does suggest that the family may offer at least some hope that the greater society cannot provide. Even as Tom leaves his family for their own protection, he promises his mother that he will always remain with her and that his connection to the family will sustain them both through difficult times. Earp draws some comfort from his promises to his dead brother and from his triumph over his rivals, suggesting that he may be able to start his own family with Clementine after a suitable period of mourning has past. Yorke's ending is the most promising of all: he seems to have reconciled with his wife and established a new, adult relationship with the son he has allowed to grow up, and this family background offers the strength and grounding that his Army "family" cannot.

Stanley Kauffmann has written, "The power of Ford burns through, a power that makes us a part of lives far from our own and makes our own lives more vivid, power over daydream and memory" (25). All three of these stories portrayed worlds far removed from even the audiences that saw them first. While Grapes of Wrath was set just a few years in the past, it showed a world as distant from the immediate experience of most of those who first viewed it as any of the post-Civil War Westerns he created. Yet all three retain an immediacy with which even contemporary audiences can identify, and this is in large part because they chronicle struggles that continue to challenge those watching. This may be as much a result of the length of Ford's career (he worked in movies from 1914 until 1972, an extraordinarily long s...

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John Ford's themes and styles. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 03:42, August 20, 2017, from
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