Movie Fact #456 – April 1st, 2014:

I forgot yesterday to continue my report of director John Ford. Given his milestones I feel I should mention them.

Ford never used storyboards, composing his pictures entirely in his head, without any written or graphic outline of the shots he would use and script development could be intense but, once approved, his screenplays were rarely rewritten. He was imaginative as you can…well imagine which is evaluated in the fact he is one of the first filmmakers to encourage his writers and actors to prepare a full back story for their characters. Yet, he was straight to the point because he hated long expository scenes and was famous for tearing pages out of a script to cut dialogue. There are plenty of examples to show it too.

During the making of his 1953 film “Mogambo”, when challenged by the film’s producer Sam Zimbalist about falling three days behind schedule, Ford responded by tearing three pages out of the script and declaring, “We’re on schedule” and indeed he never filmed those pages. Also, while making the 1939 film “Drums Along the Mohawk”, Ford neatly sidestepped the challenge of shooting a large and expensive battle scene. To do this he had actor Henry Fonda improvise a monologue while firing questions from behind the camera about the course of the battle (a subject on which Fonda was well-versed) and then simply editing out the questions.

Ford was clever but was all about getting the job done. Without that, a filmmaker has no chance.

Published in: on April 1, 2014 at 10:36 PM  Leave a Comment  

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