Your audiobook is waiting…

Wayne and Ford

The Films, the Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero
Narrated by: Kimberly Farr
Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
4 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

John Ford and John Wayne were two titans of classic film and made some of the most enduring movies of all time. The genre they defined - the Western - still matters today.

For over 20 years, John Ford and John Wayne were a blockbuster Hollywood team, turning out many of the finest Western films ever made. Ford, a son of Irish immigrants known for his black eye patch and for his hard-drinking, brawling masculinity, was renowned for both his craftsmanship and his brutality. John "Duke" Wayne was a mere stagehand and bit player in "B" Westerns, but he was strapping and incredibly handsome, and Ford saw his potential. In 1939, Ford made Wayne a star in Stagecoach, and from there the two men established a close, often turbulent relationship.

Their most productive years saw the release of one iconic film after another: Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. But by 1960 the bond of their friendship had frayed, and Wayne felt he could move beyond his mentor with his first solo project, The Alamo. Few of Wayne's following films would have the brilliance or the cachet of a John Ford Western, but, taken collectively, the careers of these two men changed moviemaking in ways that endure to this day. Despite the decline of the Western in contemporary cinema, its cultural legacy, particularly the type of hero codified by Ford and Wayne - tough, self-reliant, and unafraid to fight but also honorable, trustworthy, and kind - resonates in everything from Star Wars to today's superhero franchises.

Drawing on previously untapped caches of letters and personal documents, Nancy Schoenberger dramatically narrates a complicated, poignant, and iconic friendship and the lasting legacy of that friendship on American culture.

©2017 Nancy Schoenberger (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"For a tightly focused study of two men and a handful of movies they made together, Wayne and Ford covers an awful lot of ground. From the silent-film era through the 1970s, we're shuttled expertly through the Depression, World War II, McCarthyism, the rise of Method acting, the end of the studio system. We see the Western genre mature, perspectives on the myths of the Wild West shift, and ideas of masculinity interrogated and recast on the big screen. John Wayne's life and work, especially, have an elegiac quality here that contemporary accounts missed. It's often said that John Ford brought out the best in Wayne, but the converse is also plainly true - not in Ford's behavior toward his star, which could be vile, but in his unsurpassed filmmaking. A fascinating two-hander." (William Finnegan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Barbarian Days)
"A closely-observed and supremely engaging account of a difficult friendship and an inspired creative partnership. Whether dissecting a particular film or commenting on the American Western as a genre, Nancy Schoenberger consistently has interesting and original things to say. Along the way she limns the rise and fall of the Western hero and the code of honorable masculinity that informed it - 'those men', as she writes, 'who seem hard-wired to protect women, children, and country'. Half-elegy, half-cutting-edge analysis, this is a book for anyone interested in film and the ways in which it reflects and effects the larger culture around it." (Daphne Merkin, author of This Close to Happy)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    4
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A bit trite, and perhaps mis-subtitled

I appreciate many of their films and their statuses as cultural icons, though I'm not the biggest fan of either man. I suppose I listened to this book in order to fill the gaps in my knowledge of inner workings of the Hollywood western machine. I'm not sure I got that. Nor did I get all that much about the friendship, other than that Ford would incessantly humiliate Wayne on set. What I did get was a rather strident, though sympathetic, investigation of what it means to be manly in society, from a female perspective. I'm guessing this is meant to be the forging an American Hero part.

The author leaves no doubt where her sympathies lie with regard to the two men. You need look no further than the title and the cover art to discover that, but her message is clear throughout. Wayne is portrayed as a sensitive, self-effacing, often uncertain character haunted by his lack of military service. She almost made me feel sorry for him. Almost, but then I remember there are plenty of live interviews and recordings to see the real person. But more troubling is the subject of homosexuality the author coyly dances around for several chapters regarding Ford, only addressing it in more detail later in the text. While she isn't so brazen to condemn this orientation, she does make clear her belief that this is the root of his misogyny, which is probably the true source of her scorn.

But where the book misses the mark is relating the influences, beneficiaries and devotees of the work. In a text that freely name checks filmmakers, actors and performers from Howard Hawks and Lauren Bacall to Bruce Dern, Bob Dylan, Peter Bogdanovich and Martin Scorsese, and dozens in between, it seems odd that a lot of obvious names were passed over, or just slightly touched upon. I expected to hear more about Sam Peckinpah, particularly in reference to Dylan's work in Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, or in discussing the career of Ben Johnson, or when recounting a list of western tv and film makers in the 50s and 60s. It seemed as if he wouldn't be mentioned at all, until a short note about The Wild Bunch, and realistic, cathartic violence in westerns. But I was probably more surprised there was no mention of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune (arguably the most creative director/actor pairing in film history, along with Bogart/Huston and the subjects of this book). Kurosawa greatly admired Ford, and famously staged samurai scenes as reflections of westerns. Those kind of stories would have been far more interesting. Perhaps it is beyond the brief of this book, but as mentioned, it strayed into many other areas of the entertainment industry.

All in all, a decent enough book, but not a lot new to be learned.


  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A great book

Great work and still as relevant today as when Wayne and Ford where alive a very satisfying read

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fast paced history of two film legends

Nancy Schoenberg has produced a fast paced and concise history of film legends John Ford and John Wayne that helps contextualize their work together and which helps makes their films both more interesting and accessible.

The book is well narrated by Kimberly Farr.