Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#151 Post by movielocke » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:09 pm

Drucker wrote:Shocked at how highly you are placing Two Rode Together! Despite it's beauty and the first half hour or so, the film tonally feels all over the place and doesn't land for me at all. There's a crazed anger and outrage to Stewart that seemed so un-Fordlike when I watched this.
The film is pretty explicit in its didactic rejection of myth from the opening where Stewart is posed like Henry Fonda, and like Wyatt Earp he is a town Marshall, but unlike My Darling Clementine, the film goes out of its way to explicitly lay out what a corrupt and profitable venture being a Wyatt Earp type Marshall was. Then the way the film references The Searchers by literally giving us Scar again, but rejects the mythology of a nomadic people (necessitating searching) and instead posits they’ll accept arms deals trades peaceably enough, that they’re reasonable rational actors not incomprehensible terrorist savages. And the film really seems like it exists to really hammer home the idea that the ending of the Searchers is not a good thing (which in spite of Debbie being literally enveloped in Darkness and Ethan being shut out of the community for not killing her people still seemed to miss), so we have half of an entire film painfully detailing the racism and horrors suffered by someone like Debbie, making villains out of those usually portrayed as good folk innocents. The film is really angry and I found it completely fascinating. It’s even visually divorced from mythmaking with Ford not using Monument Valley, but instead in a more verdant and realist west instead of the desert again. I think it was so different, so didactic and sour and angry from all the other Ford I was watching that it really resonated for me.

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Drucker
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#152 Post by Drucker » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:37 pm

Morally I am totally with the film, but I still just think it kind of sucked, and while I agree with its politics I found it a bit hard to watch and awkwardly executed.

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domino harvey
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#153 Post by domino harvey » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:40 pm

I ranked it even higher than movielocke. And speaking of being in good company, Jean-Luc Godard named it the best film of 1961!

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Rayon Vert
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#154 Post by Rayon Vert » Tue Mar 26, 2019 11:51 pm

Drucker wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:37 pm
Morally I am totally with the film, but I still just think it kind of sucked, and while I agree with its politics I found it a bit hard to watch and awkwardly executed.
FWIW I'm completely with you. And Gallagher and especially McBride don't think much of the film either, to contrast with Godard's (typically perverse?) take. McBride quotes Ford himself as saying it was "the worst piece of crap (he'd) done in 20 years".

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movielocke
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Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#155 Post by movielocke » Mon May 06, 2019 7:30 pm

Filled in Donovan's Reef, which is a nice, breezy film, Hawaiian Quiet Man in a way, and Horse Soldiers, kind of middling, but the visual structuration of the Union battle tactics at the mid-film ambush at the depot are absolutely stunning. Ford does everything without a word of dialogue, but the entirety of the battle and why the union wins it is so stunningly clear and concise. Wonderful little sequence. It also foreshadows the end of the film bridge sequence, but not in an especially powerful way.

I don't know that either would have made my list, Donovan's Reef would have been in contention for one of the bottom spots, Horse Soldiers winds up mid tier 20s-30s of Ford for me.

I also found out that Black Watch is available for streaming rental/purchase, like Men without Women, another hyper obscurity made unexpectedly accessible.

Talk about your historical oddity. It's an early sound film, racist like any Indian adventure film of this era is racist (Myrna Loy plays the white Indian princess, and they explain she is indeed ancestrally white), and the Indian Adventure story is cross cut with a WWI battlefield story, and for some sequences where they couldn't move the camera, there are some really impressive deep space staging and blocking of actors in an otherwise still frame.

I'm no expert of early sound films, but I found the sonic density of the soundtrack extremely fascinating, there are a ton of layers to the audio, comprising audio counterpoints and off screen audio. Maybe its because I watched it with headphones, but it really sounded good, and my suspicion is that a lot of this very complex audio in some of the scenes like the train farewell all had to be done live.

And given that it's an early sound film, the first thirty minutes are practically a musical (not really) with six or seven diagetic songs sung in scene before they all depart on the train station.

It isn't a great film, but it's goddamn fascinating to parse it all, at least to me it was.


that leaves only The Fugitive and Flesh as reasonably accessible Ford films I haven't seen.

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movielocke
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Re: Summer With Jean, Jean, and John (Auteur List Projects)

#156 Post by movielocke » Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:36 pm

Filled in Flesh, which was very nice for the first half, but once it has to get out of romantic comedy mode and become a gangster / wrestling picture it feels like it becomes more of a mess. It is still fine because the two leads have good lines and good chemistry and Beery gives a wonderful hammy and sincere performance that is quite stunning.
SpoilerShow
The final shot is interesting, accompanying Beery in his walk up and then framing Laura behind bars even though she is technically the free one, she’s the one that is not inside, wracked by guilt. It’s quite clever and a nice thoughtful touch visually[\spoiler]
Middle tier ford, but not a bad film overall.

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