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Directed by John Ford (1971)

"For years, Peter Bogdanovich's 1971 documentary Directed by John Ford stood as an impeccable work of auteurist enthusiasm: Bogdanovich, before his own directing career hit its early peak, assembled a loving tribute to the American cinema's towering figure. In 2006, Bogdanovich re-imagined the film for Turner Classic Movies, adding new interview footage with, among others, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, and himself. The result is something of a hybrid (and a curious experience for fans of the 1971 picture): the meat of the original film--complete with narration by Orson Welles--remains, but garnished with newish shot-on-video comments from a more distant perspective. Bogdanovich's own hilariously frustrated interview with John Ford is still prominently featured, with the sly Ford avoiding/denying his interlocutor's earnest questions. The superbly chosen clips have room to illustrate the uncanny poetry of Ford's art (such a pleasure to watch among the quick-cut tribute montages of the present day), and Bogdanovich highlights the emphasis on rituals in Ford's work and his many treatments of American history. Among the new interviewees is Steven Spielberg, who offers a marvelous anecdote about a youthful meeting with Ford (the old director's advice is priceless and extremely smart). Bogdanovich also includes a somewhat voyeuristic audiotape of a final meeting between Katharine Hepburn and the sickly Ford, strongly implying that she may have been the love of the director's life. The best stories come from Ford's old guard, notably John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and James Stewart, all of whom seem to take particular pleasure in telling Ford tales--and acting them out. By most accounts (including theirs) John Ford could be difficult, cruel, exasperating. And they're all utterly devoted to him."

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