PAPPY: The Life of John Ford by Dan Ford

PAPPY: The Life of John Ford

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Dan Ford is ""Pappy"" John's grandson, but far from being run-of-the-mill adulation, this is an unsentimental, even stringent, appraisal of the celebrated filmmaker and his vagrant ways. On the basis that Ford's ""family life and his professional life cannot be cleanly and evenly divided,"" the author provides a taste of Ford's poorish Maine childhood and then moves quickly to the crucial day when John, aged 19, followed his brother Francis into the movie business. He takes forthright note, thereafter, of Ford's excessive drinking (a problem even in his twenties); his volatile family life (""On balance he was not a particularly good father""); the deep-seated reasons for his military involvement (wife Mary ""regarded his movie career as flashy and 'low Irish'. . . Thus he looked to the Establishment world of the military for his social life""); as well as his colorful Irish background, his flair for practical jokes, his fierce loyalty to friends like John Wayne, and his consistent artistic integrity. On the whole, he structures the book around the making of the films, adding a critical opinion (""The German cinema had a direct and profound effect on John"") where relevant, or an insight on the industry -- notably, on the career of Darryl Zanuck. (The Grapes of Wrath, he says -- taking Zanuck's side against his grandfather's -- was a collaborative and ""not an auteur project."") His strength lies in his ability to smoothly weave into the record personal recollections and gleanings from interviews with a host of Ford intimates, including John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Roddy McDowell. The result is a balanced portrait, often amusing and consistently alive.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1979
ISBN: 0306808757
Publisher: Prentice-Hall