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Draw Pardner … John Ford’s canvas …

12 Oct

When you attend Art College, the first thing they do is take your colors away and lock ‘em up. Then they hand you a black crayon and a piece of white paper and say: “Shut up and Draw, pardner.”

And draw you do.

In 1917 John Ford was handed a black crayon and a camera – and between 1917 and 1927 he drew 62 black and white ‘moving pictures’.  ‘Silent films’ they called ‘em.

Some 40 of these ‘pictures’ were lost – basically thrown away. But in the process Ford learned the Mastery of composition, framing and direction.

Then, about 1928, somebody said: “Hey … maybe this guy can help us figure out how to use this thing called ‘Sound’.”

Wikipedia: “Stagecoach (1939) was Ford’s first western since 3 Bad Men in 1926, and it was his first with sound. Reputedly Orson Welles watched Stagecoach forty times in preparation for making Citizen Kane. It remains one of the most admired and imitated of all Hollywood movies, not least for its climactic stagecoach chase and the hair-raising horse-jumping scene, performed by the stuntman Yakima Canutt.”

Ultimately, in 1939, Ford finally got his colors:

Wikipedia: “Drums along the Mohawk (1939) was a lavish frontier drama co-starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert it was also Ford’s first movie in color and included uncredited script contributions by William Faulkner. It was a big box-office success, grossing $1.25 million in its first year in the US and earning Edna May Oliver a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her performance.”

But Ford had learned something about Black and White – it could say things in dramatic ways that color often distracted from. So on occasion he went back to his black crayon and white slate, as in “The Man who shot Liberty Valence”.

So … pardon my colors.

Henry Fonda

My Darling Clementine (1946) … Masterpiece

11 Oct

In my study of Journalism, Graphic Design and Fine Arts, I learned a simple lesson: “Keep your mouth shut and let the pictures do the talking.”

These ‘stills’ from My Darling Clementine speak loudly. My Darling Clementine probably contains more ‘Iconic Images’ than any other Western ever made. These are just a few:

My Darling Clementine / Fonda

My Darling Clementine / Opening Vista

My Darling Clementine / Henry Fonda

My Darling Clementine / Walter Brennan

My Darling Clementine / Victor Mature and Henry Fonda

My Darling Clementine / Victor Mature

My Darling Clementine / Henry Fonda

My Darling Clementine / Henry Fonda

My Darling Clementine / Henry Fonda

My Darling Clementine / Walter Brennan

My Darling Clementine / Walter Brennan

My Darling Clementine / Vista

My Darling Clementine / Adios

My Darling Clementine / Farewell

My Darling Clementine

For a Few Dollars More … or less …

27 Sep

Soundtrack A fistful of Dollars / Ennio Morricone

A Fistful of Pesos ?? …

From Wikipedia – The Online Encyclopedia:

- 1964 – Clint Eastwood signed a contract for A Fistful of Dollars for $15,000 (US$112,403 in 2012 dollars) in wages for eleven weeks’ work, with a bonus of a Mercedes automobile upon completion.

- Sergio Leone intended Henry Fonda to play the “Man with No Name”. However, the production company could not afford to engage a major Hollywood star.

- Next, Leone offered Charles Bronson the part. He, too, declined the role, arguing that the script was bad.

- Both Fonda and Bronson would later star in Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).

- Other actors who turned the role down were Henry Silva, Rory Calhoun, Tony Russel, Steve Reeves, Ty Hardin, James Coburn and Richard Harrison.

Soundtrack For a Few Dollars More / Ennio Morricone

For a few pesos more …

From Wikipedia – The Online Encyclopedia

- 1965 – Clint Eastwood received $50,000 for returning in the sequel For a Few Dollars More, while Lee Van Cleef received $17,000.

- Charles Bronson was again approached for a starring role, but he passed it up, citing that the sequel’s script was like the first film. Instead, Lee Van Cleef then accepted the role.

 - As all of the film’s footage was shot silent, Eastwood and Van Cleef returned to Italy where they dubbed over their dialogue and sound effects were added.

MFW:

One of my favorite things is to investigate who turned down – or lost out – on certain movie roles.

 For instance. Gary Cooper turned down The Big Trail, Stagecoach, and Red River. John Wayne took all three. Cooper carried on very nicely, but Wayne went on to become the Number One Star in Movies and possibly the greatest Western Star of all time.

“112,000 dollars” in 1964 for Clint – for 11 weeks work. And a Mercedes. Not bad at all actually – and he wasn’t even a star … yet. Though by todays Movie Star standards that might sound a bit weak. But as they say in Hollywood: “The only bad actor is an unemployed actor.”

Of course ‘nobody’ (if you’ll excuse the expression) had no idea of the success these movies would be – the start of the whole Spaghetti Western phenomenon. And very obviously – by the number of actors that turned these movies down – plenty of people didn’t think much of the opportunity.

But if Bronson hadn’t been so picky, Lee Van Cleef might very well have just faded away into the Western sunset.

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