She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949)

JOHN FORD

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB.  USA, 1949.  .  Screenplay by , , based on the short stories The Big Hunt and War Party by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , John Ford.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by , .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1949.  

John Wayne in She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.

To describe the plot, it does not sound like much: is a Civil War general retiring from his post on the frontier in the months following Custer’s defeat, reluctant to be put out to grass before taking advantage of the first chance to get back into action.  In execution, however, John Ford’s magnificent film is a marvel to behold.  Sharply beautiful photography and direction of the highest order display the myths of the Wild West being both constructed and scrutinized at the same time.  At the heart of it is a superb, layered performance by the Duke that puts aside whatever it is about his fame that is usually off-putting (the icon of a fictional ideal of American maleness that has nothing to do with reality) and instead suggests as much self-reflection as Ford’s narrative does.  Wayne is a blustering tower of virility who is also exhausted and confused as to what it was all for.  He also plays mid-sixties with extremely good effect considering he was nowhere near that age at the time.  A sterling piece of Americana.

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