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It’s also worth noting that Ford didn’t just make Westerns. He won one of several Oscars for Best Director How green was my valley (1941), but it felt like a make-up after the traditionally conservative and patriotic Ford soberly adapted John Steinbeck’s anti-capitalist. Grapes of Wrath in 1940 — which didn’t win the biggest Oscars of its night. And after a stint as a World War II filmmaker, where he was essentially a combat photographer, Ford tired of his own myth-making later in his career. Arguably his best western is an indictment of frontier racism by American settlers: Seekers (1956). And in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Jimmy Stewart’s on-screen Old West icon is revealed to be a hoax; a man who took credit for the shooting death of outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) by his romantic rival (John Wayne).
Whether the 15-year-old Spielberg was aware of these contradictions and paradoxes in Ford’s character is hard to say. However, he soon learned that the Golden Age director was really as alive as his politics.
According to Spielberg, in his real-life meeting with Ford, the then 68-year-old and cyclopian Ford came in not only drunk and smoking a cigar, but with lipstick kiss marks all over his face, which the secretary hurriedly wiped off before Spielberg entered. legend’s office. As the young candidate walked in, Ford put his feet up on the table and asked, “So I hear you want to be a picture maker?” He then gave Spielberg a test in which we see Fablemendemanding that he notice the horizon.
“If you can distinguish horizon art at the bottom of the frame or at the top of the frame, but not going through the center of the frame,” Ford said, “if you can judge why it’s up and why it’s down, you can be a pretty good photographer. Get the hell out of here!“
It’s certainly not the kind of tact Spielberg, now an elder statesman, would take with younger filmmakers, but one gets the sense that he’s quite proud to have dropped one of Pappy Ford’s famous “f-bombs” back in ’62.
Note another important difference between reality and Fablemen is that Spielberg didn’t start his career Hogan’s Heroes. In one of Spielberg’s own little legends, the one-time aspiring filmmaker managed to talk his way into Universal Pictures after one tour, then pretended to work there for more than half a year before people realized he wasn’t an employee. Instead of getting arrested, the kid’s chutzpah landed him a job at the studio, where he worked for a few years as a television host, albeit on a Rod Serling show. Night gallery instead of in 1969 Hogan’s Heroes.