best film: Maureen O’Hara is most often remembered around Christmas with Miracle on 34th Street or around St. Patrick’s Day with The Quiet Man, but her best single film is John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley (1941). Ford was a great director for decades, but the greatest single stretch during that long, distinguished career was from 1939-1941 with Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath and How Green Was My Valley. John Ford did not open up often to talk about his work but on occasion he would call this his favorite of his own films. How Green Was My Valley won five (nominated for ten) Academy Awards (including best picture and best director). It often gets brought up among cinephiles as the film that beat Citizen Kane and is seen in that context. But this is not Around the World in 80 Days (1956 over The Searchers), Oliver! (1968 over 2001: A Space Odyssey), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979 over Apocalypse Now) or The Artist (2011 over The Tree of Life). Ford’s film is an artistic behemoth in its own right, even if it falls short of Welles’ Kane. This is one of Ford’s most ambitious projects. Part of the talented crew assembled was art director Richard Day (winner of a whopping seven Oscars overall). Day helped build the massive coal mining set that took months of construction to build. Thematically it makes a perfect twin billing with The Grapes of Wrath – the story of a family set against nearly unfathomable hardships. This is more of an group effort than most of Ford’s films (Ford often uses the extras as a gorgeous choral gallery here), but O’Hara has a big part as Angharad.
best performance: The Quiet Man. O’Hara is a volcano here and goes toe to toe with the massive John Wayne (she was often paired with Wayne in her career) and Victor McLaglen (and Ward Bond and Barry Fitzgerald). Her iconic kiss with Wayne (a great homage to the scene in Steven Spielberg’s E.T.) justifiably lives on as a great scene in film history.
stylistic innovations/traits: Dublin-born Maureen O’Hara was a perfect pairing for John Ford (particularly when he wanted to recall his love for Ireland and the Irish) and John Wayne. She was tall in stature (hence the Wayne coupling) and was famous for the fire-red hair (used oh so well in The Quiet Man). She is known for playing spirited characters (to match that hair). She had nine (9) archiveable films getting her first archiveable film before the age of twenty (20) in an Alfred Hitchcock film (Jamaica Inn).
directors worked with: John Ford (4), Alfred Hitchcock (1), Carol Reed (1)
top five performances:
- The Quiet Man
- Miracle on 34th Street
- How Green Was My Valley
- Rio Grande
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
|1939- Jamaica Inn|
|1939- The Hunchback of Notre Dame|
|1941- How Green Was My Valley|
|1942- The Black Swan|
|1947- Miracle on 34th Street|
|1950- Rio Grande|
|1952- The Quiet Man|
|1955- The Long Gray Line|
|1959- Our Man in Havana|
Hi Drake, or anybody else who wants to answer. Didn’t quite know where to put this question: who is the best feminine director?
We can look at a director like Kurosawa and state that he is primarily a masculine director, or movies Lawrence of Arabia or other war movies and think about them in the context of “what does it means to be a man in this world?”. Is there a director or actress that grapples primarily with the theme of “what does mean to be a woman in this world?”
James Cameron is certainly my pick. Obviously he has created the iconic Sarah Connor and elevated Ellen Ripley to action goddess status, but Rose’s arc in Titanic is the driving force of the film’s narrative and beating heart. It’s quite astounding how sensitive Cameron’s vision in Titanic is in general, and Rose’s inner conflict (so well portrayed by Winslet) as a young woman in a changing era is so much more central than people may remember. Interesting as well that he sort of flips the “manic pixie dream girl” archetype and allows Jack to exist solely as a means to allow Rose to take the reins of her own life and become a woman.
Also I’d say Antonioni, Almodovar, Fassbinder, Lynch perhaps. Many female cinephiles that I have seen and known have said Polanski, despite his obvious personal offenses. Repulsion, Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby and Tess all are very rich, sympathetic illustrations of abused women.
Obviously those are all male directors. I assumed it goes without saying that there have been many great female auteurs that have dealt with themes of womanhood
Hi @Ce, thanks for the reply! With the exception of Cameron, I haven’t really explored many of their filmographies, I’ll add them to my watchlists.
I just watched Kiarostami’s “Ten” one of the best films i’ve seen on what it means to be a woman in the world. Can’t say its a common them through his filmography though.
Hi @Jagman, just added to my watchlist. Much appreciated on the recommendation.
@Drake-Are you planning to do a 2022 page?
@Malith- I am, yes… the plan is to do it after the top 100 list here – provided I can get to enough of the 2022 films to have it make sense to put the page up.
How many 2022 films are in the archives so far?
@Alt Mash- 44 films and counting
@Drake-What’s your thoughts on Babylon? Is it essential viewing? I was thinking about going to watch it in a Cinema Hall tomorrow. But is in two minds about it because of the mixed reviews.
@Malith- I think highly enough of it to say you should see it. It is one I have earmarked to try to see again before putting up the 2022 page
@Drake – any 2022 films with a MS/MP or MP grade? You don’t have to say the name of the films (if there are any). Was just curious if any made those grades so far.
@LeBron Smith – there is one right now- but as I said, plenty of work to do still for me still before wrapping up 2022.