john ford and woody allen and stanley kubrick (and clint eastwood)

TWO OF MY FAVORITE DIRECTORS are John Ford and Woody Allen. For the former, think Harry Carey and Henry Fonda and John Wayne. Men’s and women’s men. For the latter, think Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow and Diane Wiest and Mira Sorvino and Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz. Men’s and women’s women.

Mr. Ford made his male leads famous while Mr. Allen has been making his female leads famous.



His eminence John Ford in what may be the hokiest publicity photo that he ever posed for (Stagecoach) and allowed to be used. “You can have a weak, utterly bad script, and a good cast will turn it into a good picture. I’ve thwarted more than one handicap of that kind with the aid of two or three really fine actors.”

Of course there are exceptions: Maureen O’Hara was never better than when she was with the Duke under Ford’s direction. And in Midnight In Paris, Allen made us see Owen Wilson in a brand new light, one that should bring him much better roles than he has had in the past.

Anyway, this is a brief post to call attention to a nice piece on Woody Allen in today’s New York Times (July 21) titled “Annie and Her Sisters – Woody Allen’s Distinctive Female Characters” by Dave Itzkoff. I highly recommend to non-fans of Woody, especially female non-fans!



Stanley Kubrick as many fans prefer to remember him: obsessed if not demonically possessed with the making of great movies. “Any time you take a chance you better be sure the rewards are worth the risk because they can put you away just as fast for a ten dollar heist as they can for a million dollar job.”

My third favorite director is Stanley Kubrick, with A Clockwork Orange my faveravest of his films. (And for the interested, author Anthony Burgess found his title for his 1962 novel from a Cockney idiom, “as queer as a clockwork orange.”

According to Wikipedia, this (now) politically incorrect—and wudda shame that is!—phrase means “indicating something bizarre internally, but appearing natural, human, and normal on the surface.” But that’s another story . . .


The Rookie (1990), Unforgiven (1992), True Crime (1999), Million Dollar Baby (2004), Gran Torino (2008), and Jersey Boys (2014). That’s a long road since Rowdy Yates . . .

Since I wrote this, I thought things through—ratiocinating a bit, you see—and I think I may have to elevate Clint Eastwood from the unnamed fourth spot to perhaps second to Woody at this point in time. Perhaps because he is active and relevant and so surprising—although I might suggest he stay away from Rep*blican conventions, where he is even more surprising and arguably more entertaining but a helluvalot less insightful . . .


HEADER IMAGE: The illustration at the top of this page is by Thomas Fluharty for The New York Times. For more on Woody (this time concerning his travails), please click on over to “the character assassination of woody allen in the media continues as ignorance and opinion trump facts.”


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