In Print the Legend: Politics, Culture, and Civic Virtue in the Films of John Ford, a collection of writers explore Ford's view of politics, popular culture, and civic virtue in some of his best films: Drums Along the Mohawk, The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Stagecoach, How Green Was My Valley, and The Last Hurrah. John Ford, more than most motion picture directors, invites his viewers into a serious discussion of these themes. For instance, one can consider Plato's timeless question 'What is justice?' in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, vengeance as classical Greek tragedy in The Searchers, or ethnic politics in The Last Hurrah. Ford's films never grow stale or seem dated because he continually probes the most important questions of our civic culture: what must we do to survive, prosper, pursue happiness, and retain our common decency as a regime? Further, viewing them from a distance of time, we are subtly invited to ask whether anything has been lost or gained since Ford celebrated the civic virtues of an earlier America. Is Ford's America an idealized America or a lost America?
Publisher: Lexington Books
Number of pages: 206
Weight: 435 g
Dimensions: 241 x 161 x 21 mm
As we are on the threshold today of what may prove to be revolutionary changes in the American regime, it is entirely fitting that Sidney Pearson calls our attention back to the cultural revolution of the 1960s, by way of looking to the director whose films most effectively and artfully probed the issues at stake in America's cultural revolution from the perspective of heroic America. It is also fitting that Pearson approaches the films of such a great director with such a talented lineup of essayists, including some of our most interesting commentators on political philosophy and culture. For all who admire Ford's work, and especially for those of us who draw on it in our courses, this is an important and compelling collection. -- Ronald J. Pestritto, Hillsdale College
Although the marriage of political philosophy and film seems like a dubious exercise at best, these deftly crafted and persuasively argued essays show that the films of John Ford are as much entertainment as they are profound meditations on the nature and the meaning of the American experiment in self-government. One should go farther to say that in the absence of a keen understanding of American culture and political philosophy each of these authors bring their their analyses, we might never adequately appreciate and understand Ford's accomplishments. Ford's creations emerge at a critical time in American history, just as the cultural revolution of the 1960s gathered steam, when the meaning of America may have been indelibly transformed. These essays invite us to ponder, as Ford himself seems to have done, whether that transformation is in accord with our best hopes or our worst fears. -- Eduardo Velasquez, Washington and Lee University