John Ford and John Wayne – Filmmaker Interview: Sam Pollard

Director Sam Pollard remembers the first John Ford/John Wayne film he ever saw: THE MAN
WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, which he watched in 1962 at a theater in Harlem along with his brother, sister, and uncle Sammie. “What stands out in my mind is the Paramount logo, the music, and Lee Marvin’s first words in the movie, STAND AND DELIVER. It was, for me, the magic of movies, being in a dark theater, transported to the world of the West — what my dad used to call shoot-’em-ups.” Below, Pollard and writer/producer Kenneth Bowser answer some questions about their documentary “John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker and The Legend.”

Q: Why did you choose to build the film around the work these two artists did together, rather than a documentary about one or the other?

Kenneth Bowser: Our original plan was to make a film on Ford alone. But his career was so long and so filled with great films there was a danger we might be skipping a stone across the surface of that career. And at some point we just realized that so much of what was great and interesting about Ford stood out in his work with Wayne. By juxtaposing the paths they took as artists and as people we could illuminate the work they did together in hopefully a clearer way.

Q: You’ve described the relationship between the director and the actor as father-son, at least initially. Please elaborate.

Sam Pollard: Wayne and Ford met each in the 1920s. Wayne was almost 15 years younger than Ford. Ford was already a director with a reputation. It makes sense that it would be a father-son relationship. And Wayne would always see the relationship in that way. That’s why he always called Ford Pappy or Coach.


Complete interview linked here.

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