April 1 ~  Message of Your Heart Searching for John Ford: A Life

"You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart." ~ John Ford

John Ford, Print the LegendThe man who John Wayne called "coach," legendary motion picture director John "Pappy" Ford (1894-1973) was born John Martin Feeney in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

"A megaphone has been to John Ford what the chisel was to Michelangelo," said fellow director Frank Capra.

Ford's career spanned over 50 years, with such classic films as Stagecoach (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1939), and The Searchers (1956), considered one of the greatest Westerns ever made. (And the favorite film of distinguished directors Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.)

Ford once said: "It is easier to get an actor to be a cowboy than to get a cowboy to be an actor." With simple shots and cinematic wonder, his films helped carve the myth of the American hero and the image of the American West.

"I tell the actors what I want and they give it to me, usually on the first take," Ford said. Considered a genius camera director, Ford wore a patch over one eye and constantly chewed on the corner of a handkerchief as he worked.

The winner of an unprecedented six Academy Awards, the director called himself "hard-nosed" and "a perfectionist." He began in silent films and evolved into a great director, his career defined the emergence and importance of film.

"When in doubt, make a Western," he said. And make them he did. His "stock company" of actors, the loyal ones he worked with over and over again, included John Wayne (whom Ford discovered), Maureen O'Hara, Henry Ford, Harry Carey, Ward Bond, and many others.

"I'm a quiet, gentle person," admitted Ford who was a complex mix of gruffness, loyalty, and passionate humanity. He was known for his deep faith and convictions.

More Film-Making Quotations

John FordListen to the messages of your heart.