Director John Ford is the winner of six Academy Awards and John Wayne is the actor whom he transformed from a B-western cowboy into a larger-than-life national icon. Their friendship and professional collaboration spanned 50 years and included the films Stagecoach, Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Rio Grande, The Searchers, The Horse Soldiers, The Quite Man, They Were Expendable and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. A vast body of work was made available to Wechsler, who wove interviews and clips into a 90-minute tribute to the two film giants.
“The documentary traces the arc of the careers of both men separately and together and features rarely seen home movies and back lot footage and family photos,” explains Wechsler. The film explores their lives as seen through the filter of the dramatic historical events of World War II, McCarthyism, the civil rights movement and Vietnam. The two men frequently found themselves at opposite ends of the political spectrum.
“My goal in editing this film was to seamlessly interweave the story and show seminal highlights from some of the most iconic films in Hollywood history,” says Wechsler. “Ultimately, it was to inspire the viewer to want to see these films in their entirety. If I have achieved this goal then the film has succeeded.”
The John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker and the Legend production team included executive producer Susan Lacy, writer/producer Ken Bowser, director Sam Pollard, co-producer Brian McDonald and editor Steven Wechsler.
The hi-def online and color correction were completed at WNET in NYC by David Noling. Graphics were created by WNET’s Brian T. Whitehill. The score was composed by Thomas Wagner of Turtlerock Productions in NYC, and audio post was completed at WNET by mixer Ed Campbell. The film is a co-production of American Masters and Warner Home Video.