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Ford at Fox Silent Epics (1920-1928)

Director: John Ford, John Ford
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Classics, Classic Action/Adventure, Classic Drama, Westerns, Silent Westerns
Languages: English

Synopses
Ford at Fox Silent Epics (Disc 1 of 5): Just Pals (1920)


Ford at Fox Silent Epics (Disc 2 of 5): Hangmans House-3 Bad Men (1928)
Hangmans House-Long believed lost, this fascinating John Ford-directed silent film was rediscovered and restored in the early 1970s. Based on the 1926 novel by Donn Byrne, the film stars Hobart Bosworth as Irish "hanging judge" James O'Brien. Even on his deathbed, O'Brien cannot stop meddling in the affairs of his daughter Connaught (June Collyer), insisting that the girl marry wealthy wastrel John Darcy (Earl Foxe). Alas, Connaught despises Darcy, preferring instead the poor-but-decent Donnaugh McDonnaugh (Larry Kent). Meanwhile, Irish expatriate Hogan (Victor McLaglen) returns to the Auld Sod to avenge his family's honor by killing the caddish Darcy. One of the highlights of Hangman's House is a steeplechase sequence, predating a similar sequence in Ford's The Quiet Man by 25 years. A young, unbilled John Wayne can clearly be spotted in this scene, enthusiastically urging on his favorite horse; reportedly, Wayne also appears as a condemned prisoner in a flashback sequence.

3 Bad Men-Long thought lost, the silent Three Bad Men is an vital ingredient in the cinematic canon of director John Ford. Often described as a film version of Peter B. Kyne's Three Godfathers (which Ford would direct in 1948), Three Bad Men is actually based on Over the Border, a novel by Herman Whitaker. The plot, which spans several years, is set in motion when three bandits appoint themselves protectors of the heroine, whose settler father is killed early in the proceedings. A subplot involves bandit Tom Santschi's efforts to wreak vengeance on the man who seduced and abandoned his sister. The film was originally supposed to star George O'Brien, Tom Mix and Buck Jones as the title characters, but since the plot required the Three Bad Men to be killed off long before the fadeout, and since all three proposed stars had large and loyal kiddie followings, the roles were recast, with character actors Santschi, Frank Campeau and J. Farrell McDonald. O'Brien was retained, albeit relegated to a less colorful heroic role. Three Bad Men should be seen in its original release form; most commercial prints are chopped up and woefully washed out.

Ford at Fox Silent Epics (Disc 3 of 5): The Iron Horse (1924)
John Ford directed this epic-scale silent western, which was one of his first major successes and was hugely influential on outdoor films that followed. David Brandon (James Gordon) is a surveyor in the Old West who dreams that one day the entire North American continent will be linked by railroads. However, to make this dream a reality, a clear trail must be found through the Rocky Mountains. With his boy Davy (Winston Miller), David sets out to find such a path, but he's ambushed by a tribe of Indians led by a white savage, Peter Jesson (Cyril Chadwick); while the boy manages to escape, David is killed. Years later, the adult Davy Brandon (George O'Brien) still believes in his father's dream of a transcontinental railroad, and legislation signed by President Abraham Lincoln has made it an official mandate. Davy is hired on as a railroad surveyor by Thomas Marsh (Will R. Walling), the father of his childhood sweetheart Miriam (Madge Bellamy). While Davy hopes to win Miriam's heart as he helps to find the trail that led to his father's death years ago, he's disappointed to discover that Miriam is already married -- and shocked to discover her husband is Peter Jesson, now working with the railroad as a civil engineer. As the Union Pacific crew presses on to their historic meeting at Promitory Point, Davy must find a way to earn Miriam's love and uncover Peter's murderous past. Shot on location in Arizona in Ford's beloved Monument Valley, The Iron Horse was a massive production that employed over 6,000 people; two temporary cities were built to accommodate them, with 100 cooks on hand to serve meals.

Ford at Fox Silent Epics (Disc 4 of 5): Four Sons (1928)
Long though lost, Four Sons reemerged in the 1960s, proving anew that the silent films of director John Ford were every bit as accomplished as his talkies. More "Germanic" in tone and texture than later Ford films, Four Sons is the story of the Bernle family of Bavaria. Mother Bernle (Margaret Mann) dotes upon her four sons Joseph (James Hall), Johann (Charles Morton), Franz (Francis X. Bushman Jr.) and Andres (George Meeker), but is powerless in guiding their destinies. When WW I breaks out, her sons march off to the front: one of the boys fights for the AEF, the others for the Kaiser. The film's most poignant sequence takes place on the battlefield, when one of the sons stumbles upon his mortally wounded brother. Though the dying man's plaintive cries are heard on the Fox Movietone soundtrack, the scene itself is effectively played in pantomime. An updated version of Four Sons, wherein the locale was switched from Bavaria to Czechoslovakia, was filmed in 1940, starring Don Ameche, Alan Curtis, Robert Lowery and George Ernest.

Ford at Fox Silent Epics (Disc 5 of 5): The Iron Horse International Version (1928)
John Ford directed this epic-scale silent western, which was one of his first major successes and was hugely influential on outdoor films that followed. David Brandon (James Gordon) is a surveyor in the Old West who dreams that one day the entire North American continent will be linked by railroads. However, to make this dream a reality, a clear trail must be found through the Rocky Mountains. With his boy Davy (Winston Miller), David sets out to find such a path, but he's ambushed by a tribe of Indians led by a white savage, Peter Jesson (Cyril Chadwick); while the boy manages to escape, David is killed. Years later, the adult Davy Brandon (George O'Brien) still believes in his father's dream of a transcontinental railroad, and legislation signed by President Abraham Lincoln has made it an official mandate. Davy is hired on as a railroad surveyor by Thomas Marsh (Will R. Walling), the father of his childhood sweetheart Miriam (Madge Bellamy). While Davy hopes to win Miriam's heart as he helps to find the trail that led to his father's death years ago, he's disappointed to discover that Miriam is already married -- and shocked to discover her husband is Peter Jesson, now working with the railroad as a civil engineer. As the Union Pacific crew presses on to their historic meeting at Promitory Point, Davy must find a way to earn Miriam's love and uncover Peter's murderous past. Shot on location in Arizona in Ford's beloved Monument Valley, The Iron Horse was a massive production that employed over 6,000 people; two temporary cities were built to accommodate them, with 100 cooks on hand to serve meals.

GreenCine Member Ratings

Ford at Fox Silent Epics (Disc 1 of 5): Just Pals (1920)
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6.50 (4 votes)
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Ford at Fox Silent Epics (Disc 2 of 5): Hangmans House-3 Bad Men (1928)
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6.00 (2 votes)
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Ford at Fox Silent Epics (Disc 3 of 5): The Iron Horse (1924)
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6.50 (4 votes)
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Ford at Fox Silent Epics (Disc 4 of 5): Four Sons (1928)
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6.00 (3 votes)
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Ford at Fox Silent Epics (Disc 5 of 5): The Iron Horse International Version (1928)
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6.00 (2 votes)
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