Tag Archives: Fort Apache

Scorecard: June-September 2013

This has been a long time in the works. Even after I decided to just go with picture instead of blurbs and the whole bit, it still took me like two weeks to put together. Lots of interruptions lately. The baby is crawling, and she has the best cord-finding radar I’ve ever seen. Anyway. Not a lot of films watched the past few months, but a good variety, I think. Unsurprisingly Joss Whedon comes out on top.

What I Loved

Much Ado About Nothing

Ed Wood

The World’s End

Fort Apache

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Quick Thoughts: Fort Apache

It took me several years to get around to the first part of John Ford’s informal Cavalry Trilogy, and I’m not sure why, unless it’s simply that both of the other entries (1949’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and 1950’s Rio Grande) both fell into the “liked okay” territory for me, so I wasn’t hugely excited about tracking down Fort Apache despite the added bonus of Henry Fonda and the added curiosity of a teenage Shirley Temple.

I definitely should’ve sought it out sooner, though. This is easily the strongest of the three films, and continues the excellent streak of westerns I’ve been watching lately. Fonda plays a by-the-book cavalry officer sent to oversee a fort on the western frontier who comes into conflict with the men already stationed there over dress code, etiquette, and Indian fighting techniques – oh, and the little matter of one of the young soldiers wanting to date his daughter.

In a way, it’s kind of like the WWI stories I enjoy so much, which basically show the demise of an old way of fighting in the face of a new one. Here, Fonda’s straight-laced sense of military honor is simply not matched to the Indian’s guerilla tactics or the rough exterior required to survive on the frontier. He’s contrasted with his second-in-command John Wayne, who is a seasoned frontier soldier and both knows and respects the Indians. Throughout most of the film, it’s really frustrating to watch Fonda, because he’s pretty pig-headed in the face of advice from Wayne and the other men. He makes some pretty terrible decisions, especially a major one toward the end that flouts the goodwill Wayne had worked to build with an exiled Indian chief.

I should’ve expected this from a Ford film, but both the plotting and character work here is really great, and as easy as it is to be against Fonda, his final scenes are tragic – the tragedy of a man who simply couldn’t break free of his preconceptions and wasn’t ready for the new world of the frontier. Back to my WWI comparison, it’s not unlike the sense of tragedy we feel for Erich von Stroheim and his class in Grand Illusion, despite that character supervising a German POW camp. It’s a false nobility these characters have, to be sure, yet there is still nobility there as they watch the world they knew disintegrate before their eyes.

Fort Apache of course works as an adventure film as well, with Monument Valley shown in all its glory, and a dangerous illicit trip to Mexico as a nice little stealth centerpiece before the all-out battle of the end. I’m not a huge fan of Shirley Temple as a “grown-up” (she’s about 16 or 17 here); she can’t quite shed the cutesy little girl persona. But the fort home life scenes here do their job nicely, providing a contrast to the military action of the main plot and a very immediate sense of what the men are risking. The military setting gives the film a different feel than a lot of westerns, which I didn’t care for as much in Ford’s other two cavalry films, but it works quite well here.

Film on TV: March 2-8

I’m going to start shortening these posts up a bit – especially this week, because I’m still on my iPhone, though that should be rectified in the next few days, but also in general. I’m only going to write about the ones that I particularly feel like highlighting, and that I haven’t written about before. To see earlier blurbs about anything, click on the appropriate tag below the post.

Monday, March 2

8:15am – TCM – Foreign Correspondent
A lesser-known but still, of course, worthwhile Hitchcock film.

4:00pm – TCM – Libeled Lady

9:30pm – TCM – The Philadelphia Story

11:30pm – TCM – It Happened One Night

1:30am (3rd) – TCM – Meet John Doe
One of the more corny of Capra’s capracorny films, and not as compelling as most of his others. Still, Barbara Stanwyck.

3:45am (3rd) – TCM – Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Tuesday, March 3rd

9:05am – IFC – Moulin Rouge!
Baz Luhrmann’s trippy love-it-or-hate-it magnum opus. I happen to love it.
(repeats at 2:30pm)

5:30pm – TCM – Oklahoma!
I can’t even tell you how many times I watched this as a kid. I had it memorized. And it still holds up when I watch it now.

6:45pm – IFC – Waking Life
Richard Linklater’s brilliant animated philosophical meditation. How Linklater can make so many good films that consist entirely of people talking never ceases to amaze me, and this is one of his best.
(repeats at 5:00am on the 4th)

12:15am (4th) – TCM – Key Largo

Wednesday, March 4th

12:00Mid – IFC – Raging Bull
This Scorsese film that won DeNiro an Oscar is one of a two or three shameful gaps in my cinematic knowledge. I blame the boxing, which I avoid, but I’m gonna try this time.
(repeats at 3:30am and 1:00pm on the 5th)

Thursday, March 5th

6:30pm – IFC – Waiting for Guffman
(repeats at 8:20am and 3:15pm on the 6th)

9:30pm – IFC – The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
A Wes Anderson film. That’s my pitch right there, take it or leave it
(repeats at 3:00am on the 6th)

Friday, March 6th

9:45pm – IFC – The Cooler

Saturday, March 7th

1:30pm – TCM – Fort Apache
John Ford + John Wayne + Henry Fonda + a grown up Shirley Temple. Okay, not sure how much of a draw that last thing is, but the first three. Yeah.

6:00pm – TCM – Johnny Guitar
Nicholas Ray films are always worth watching, and this one is a campy Technicolor western starring a tough-talking Joan Crawford. I mean, come on!

8:00pm – TCM – A Night at the Opera
One of the best Marx Brothers films, and the romantic subplot is only halfway distracting.

8:00pm – IFC – The Royal Tenenbaums
Another Wes Anderson film, and his most brilliant, if you ask me.
(repeats at 10:05am on the 8th)

10:00pm – IFC – Clerks
Kevin Smith’s first film, before he had, like, a budget. Which actually works for him.
(repeats at 3:55am on the 8th)

Sunday, March 8th

8:00am – TCM – Pygmalion
The non-musical version of My Fair
. Well, technically it’s the other way around, but whatever.

8:00am – IFC – Wild Strawberries
One of Ingmar Bergman’s most celebrated films, and one which I have sadly not seen yet.

9:35am – IFC – The Silence
The third in Ingmar Bergman’s “faith” trilogy. They don’t really need to be watched in order.

10:00am – TCM – The More the Merrier

12:00N – TCM – The Women

9:45pm – IFC – The Pianist
Adrien Brody won an Oscar for his role in this Holocaust drama.
(repeats 4:00am on the 9th)

2:00am (9th) – TCM – Tokyo Story
Yasujiro Ozu is one of the most highly- praised Japanese filmmakers, and this is the film you hear about the most. To be honest, I’ve tried to watch it a couple of times, but haven’t been able to get into it. But I’m determined to rectify that.

4:30am (9th) – TCM – The Magnificent Ambersons
Orson Welles’ follow-up to Citizen Kane obviously isn’t as great a masterpiece, but is still pretty darn good, despite studio interference.