Four John Ford films have been voted among the Greatest Films of All Time in the latest critics’ poll conducted by Sight and Sound Magazine.
‘The Searchers’, Ford’s 1956 Texan-Indian-themed film, was initially voted seventh place out of 50 by 846 film critics, programmers, academics and distributors in a poll conducted by the British Film Institute-ran magazine. The list has since been extended to 250 films by the international film magazine, which has been in circulation since 1932. In the poll that’s published just once a decade, ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ was voted 117th, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ came in at 183, and ‘My Darling Clementine’ made the list at 235.
For the last 50 years, Orson Welles’ ‘Citizen Kane’ has came out on top, however was bumped to second place this year with Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ taking top prize this decade.
Based on a novel by Alan Le May, ‘The Searchers’ is an action adventure that sees Civil War veteran Ethan Edwards, played by John Wayne, search for his abducted niece when a group of Indians kidnap her and her sister after they killed his other family members.
The film was set in Northwest Texas during the Texan-Indian wars, and was primarily filmed in Arizona/Utah. Frank S Nugent wrote the screen play, with Irish-American Ford directing and Warner Brothers distributing. CV Whitney Pictures produced the picture.
It is widely recognised that ‘The Searchers’ inspired Buddy Holly to write his hit song ‘That’ll be the day’ after Ethan Edwards’ catchphrase in the film, as well as inspired 1960s group ‘The Searchers’ to name the band after the film.
‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’, a 1962 romantic drama, stars James Stewart, John Wayne and Vera Miles, in a story of a senator who faces the truth about his defeat of a notorious outlaw years after the deed. James Warner Bellah and Willis Golbeck wrote the screenplay, with Ford directing.
The western was nominated for an Oscar for Best Costume Design, and went on to win a Laurel Award, a National Film Preservation Board Award and a Western Heritage Award.
‘The Grapes of Wrath’, starring Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, and John Carradine, and based on the novel by John Steinbeck, is a 1940 drama which sees a poor Midwest family forced off their land. The film received two Oscar wins, one for Ford for Best Director and another for Jane Darwell in the Best Supporting Role category. Northern Irish director Brian Kirk (My Boy Jack, Game of Thrones), cites both ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and ‘The Searchers’ as influences of his filmmaking career.
1946’s ‘My Darling Clementine’ tells the story of the infamous shoot-out at the OK-Corral in 1881. Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell and Victor Mature star in a screenplay by Samuel G Engel and Winston Miller.
Other classics featured on the Sight and Sound list include Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ (1960), which earned the number 30 spot, and Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather’ (1972) and ‘The Godfather Part II’ (1974), which earned the 21st and 31st places respectively. ‘The Searchers’ received 78 votes to get it to seventh position, after Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ received 90 votes; ‘Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans’; ‘La Règle du jeu’; ‘Tokyo Story’; ‘Citizen Kane’; and ‘Vertigo’ rounded out the top six.