Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford

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"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." This line comes from director John Ford's film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but it also serves as an epigram for the life of the legendary filmmaker.

Through a career that spanned decades and included work on dozens of films -- among them such American masterpieces as The Searchers, The Grapes of Wrath, The Quiet Man, Stagecoach, and How Green Was My Valley -- John Ford managed to leave as his legacy a body of work that few filmmakers will ever equal. Yet as bold as the stamp of his personality was on each film, there was at the same time a marked reticence when it came to revealing anything personal. Basically shy, and intensely private, he was known to enjoy making up stories about himself, some of them based loosely on fact but many of them pure fabrications. Ford preferred instead to let his films speak for him, and the message was always masculine, determined, romantic, yes, but never soft -- and always, always totally "American." If there were other aspects to his personality, moods and subtleties that weren't reflected on the screen, then no one really needed to know.

Indeed, what mattered to Ford was always what was up there on the screen. And if it varied from reality, what did it matter? When you are creating legend, fact becomes a secondary matter.

Now, in this definitive look at the life and career of one of America's true cinematic giants, noted biographer and critic Scott Eyman, working with the full participation of the Ford estate, has managed to document and delineate both aspects of John Ford's life -- the human being and the legend.

Going well beyond the legend, Eyman has explored the many influences that were brought to play on this remarkable and complex man, and the result is a rich and involving story of a great film director and of the world in which he lived, as well as the world of Hollywood legend that he helped to shape. Drawing on more than a hundred interviews and research on three continents, Scott Eyman explains how a saloon-keeper's son from Maine helped to shape America's vision of itself, and how a man with only a high school education came to create a monumental body of work, including films that earned him six Academy Awards -- more than any filmmaker before or since. He also reveals the truth of Ford's turbulent relationship with actress Katharine Hepburn, recounts his stand for freedom of speech during the McCarthy witch-hunt -- including a confrontation with archconservative Cecil B. DeMille -- and discusses his disfiguring alcoholism as well as the heroism he displayed during World War II.

Brilliant, stubborn, witty, rebellious, irascible, and contradictory, John Ford remains one of the enduring giants in what is arguably America's greatest contribution to art -- the Hollywood movie. In Print the Legend, Scott Eyman has managed at last to separate fact from legend in writing about this remarkable man, producing what will remain the definitive biography of this film giant.
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About the author

Scott Eyman has written fifteen books, three of them New York Times bestsellers, including John Wayne: The Life and Legend. His most recent book is Hank and Jim. He has been awarded the William K. Everson Award for Film History by the National Board of Review. He teaches film history at the University of Miami and lives in West Palm Beach with his wife, Lynn.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
May 29, 2012
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Pages
656
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ISBN
9781451685114
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Entertainment & Performing Arts
Biography & Autobiography / General
Performing Arts / Film / General
Performing Arts / Individual Director
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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“Highly recommended” (Library Journal): The only full-length biography of legendary film director Ernst Lubitsch, the director of such Hollywood classics as Trouble in Paradise, Ninotchka, and The Shop Around the Corner.

In this groundbreaking biography of Ernst Lubitsch, undeniably one of the most important and influential film directors and artists of all time, critic and biographer Scott Eyman, author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller John Wayne, examines not just the films Lubitsch created, but explores as well the life of the man, a life full of both great successes and overwhelming insecurities. The result is a fascinating look at a man and an era—Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Born in Berlin and transported to Hollywood in the 1920s with the help of Mary Pickford, Lubitsch brought with him a level of sophistication and subtlety previously unknown to American movie audiences. He was quickly established as a director of unique quality and distinction. He captivated audiences with his unique “touch,” creating a world of fantasy in which men are tall and handsome (unlike Lubitsch himself) and humorously adept at getting women into bed, and where all the women are beautiful and charming and capable of giving as well as receiving love. He revived the flagging career of Marlene Dietrich and, in Ninotchka, created Greta Garbo’s most successful film. When movie buffs speak of “the Lubitsch touch,” they refer to a sense of style and taste, humor and humanity that defined the films of one of Hollywood’s all-time great directors. In the history of the medium, no one has ever quite equaled his unique talent.

Written with the cooperation of an extraordinary ensemble of eyewitnesses, and unprecedented access to the files of Paramount Pictures, this is an enthralling biography as rich and diverse as its subject—sure to please film buffs of all types, especially those who champion Lubitsch as one of the greatest filmmakers ever.
The New York Times bestselling biography of John Wayne: “authoritative and enormously engaging…Eyman takes you through Wayne’s life, his death, and his legend in a detailed, remarkably knowledgeable yet extremely readable way” (Peter Bogdanovich, The New York Times Book Review).

John Wayne died more than thirty years ago, but he remains one of today’s five favorite movie stars. The celebrated Hollywood icon comes fully to life in this complex portrait by noted film historian and master biographer Scott Eyman.

Exploring Wayne’s early life with a difficult mother and a feckless father, “Eyman gets at the details that the bean-counters and myth-spinners miss…Wayne’s intimates have told things here that they’ve never told anyone else” (Los Angeles Times). Eyman makes startling connections to Wayne’s later days as an anti-Communist conservative, his stormy marriages to Latina women, and his notorious—and surprisingly long-lived—passionate affair with Marlene Dietrich. He also draws on the actor’s own business records and, of course, his storied film career.

“We all think we know John Wayne, in part because he seemed to be playing himself in movie after movie. Yet as Eyman carefully lays out, ‘John Wayne’ was an invention, a persona created layer by layer by an ambitious young actor” (The Washington Post). This is the most nuanced and sympathetic portrait available of the man who became a symbol of his country at mid-century, a cultural icon and quintessential American male against whom other screen heroes are still compared.
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