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Publisher's Summary

John Ford and John Wayne were two titans of classic film and made some of the most enduring movies of all time. The genre they defined - the Western - still matters today.
For over 20 years, John Ford and John Wayne were a blockbuster Hollywood team, turning out many of the finest Western films ever made. Ford, a son of Irish immigrants known for his black eye patch and for his hard-drinking, brawling masculinity, was renowned for both his craftsmanship and his brutality. John "Duke" Wayne was a mere stagehand and bit player in "B" Westerns, but he was strapping and incredibly handsome, and Ford saw his potential. In 1939, Ford made Wayne a star in Stagecoach, and from there the two men established a close, often turbulent relationship.
Their most productive years saw the release of one iconic film after another: Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. But by 1960 the bond of their friendship had frayed, and Wayne felt he could move beyond his mentor with his first solo project, The Alamo. Few of Wayne's following films would have the brilliance or the cachet of a John Ford Western, but, taken collectively, the careers of these two men changed moviemaking in ways that endure to this day. Despite the decline of the Western in contemporary cinema, its cultural legacy, particularly the type of hero codified by Ford and Wayne - tough, self-reliant, and unafraid to fight but also honorable, trustworthy, and kind - resonates in everything from Star Wars to today's superhero franchises.
Drawing on previously untapped caches of letters and personal documents, Nancy Schoenberger dramatically narrates a complicated, poignant, and iconic friendship and the lasting legacy of that friendship on American culture.
©2017 Nancy Schoenberger (P)2017 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"For a tightly focused study of two men and a handful of movies they made together, Wayne and Ford covers an awful lot of ground. From the silent-film era through the 1970s, we're shuttled expertly through the Depression, World War II, McCarthyism, the rise of Method acting, the end of the studio system. We see the Western genre mature, perspectives on the myths of the Wild West shift, and ideas of masculinity interrogated and recast on the big screen. John Wayne's life and work, especially, have an elegiac quality here that contemporary accounts missed. It's often said that John Ford brought out the best in Wayne, but the converse is also plainly true - not in Ford's behavior toward his star, which could be vile, but in his unsurpassed filmmaking. A fascinating two-hander." (William Finnegan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Barbarian Days)
"A closely-observed and supremely engaging account of a difficult friendship and an inspired creative partnership. Whether dissecting a particular film or commenting on the American Western as a genre, Nancy Schoenberger consistently has interesting and original things to say. Along the way she limns the rise and fall of the Western hero and the code of honorable masculinity that informed it - 'those men', as she writes, 'who seem hard-wired to protect women, children, and country'. Half-elegy, half-cutting-edge analysis, this is a book for anyone interested in film and the ways in which it reflects and effects the larger culture around it." (Daphne Merkin, author of This Close to Happy)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Conyers Davis on 11-19-17

Fast paced history of two film legends

Nancy Schoenberg has produced a fast paced and concise history of film legends John Ford and John Wayne that helps contextualize their work together and which helps makes their films both more interesting and accessible.

The book is well narrated by Kimberly Farr.

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