John Ford

Ford, John, 1895–1973, American film director, b. Cape Elizabeth, Maine, as John Martin Feeney. Ford began directing in 1917 after an apprenticeship with his brother Francis. Over the next 50 years, he brought a painterly eye, an appreciation of his actors' strengths, and a deep love of Americana to over 200 feature films. Although Ford set films in other parts of the country or world, including several in Ireland, he returned to the Western repeatedly throughout his career. These films merge a beautiful pictorial style, using the buttes and mesas almost as architectural features, with stories that frequently deal with the nature of military command. Among his films are The Iron Horse (1924), The Informer (1935), Stagecoach (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), Fort Apache (1947), The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1957), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). Ford won six Academy Awards. During World War II he served in the U.S. navy and made the acclaimed documentary June 7th (1944).

See biographies by A. Sinclair (1979), S. Eyman (1999), and J. McBride (2001); studies by P. Bogdanovich (1968), J. McBride and M. Wilmington (1974), and T. Gallagher (1986).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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