The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

They Were Collaborators #695

John Wayne and John Ford, two of the most famous collaborators in film history. On the set of The Alamo, however, they were decidedly not. Ford popped in uninvited thinking Wayne would welcome an old pro helping out. Ford was wrong. Wayne sent him off to do second unit shots and went back to directing the film, alone, for better or worse.


peterrocker said...

For worse imho.

MichaelRyerson said...

Too bad, could've turned out to be a watchable film.

estiv said...

In the DVD extras, Ken Curtis says that Wayne was not good with actors, that all he could think to tell them was to repeat exactly what Ford had always told him. Which explains Richard Widmark's otherwise inexplicable John Wayne imitation in this movie.

Greg said...

estiv, yeah, I heard Widmark couldn't stand Wayne as a director because he would give line readings, which for those unfamiliar with acting (I'm a former stage actor) is when the director literally says the line how he thinks it should be said and directs you to say it that way. This is, of course, how one directs children, not professional actors.

I once did a play where we had a director come in whose only experience had been with middle-schoolers for ten years. We were doing Israel Horowitz's Line and he started giving us line readings. We just stared at him. When he continued, we told him, no, if you want something out of us, we can deliver it but how we say it, otherwise, it sounds off and phony. He couldn't understand and we took over the play, directing ourselves. He stopped showing up. Anyway, it all went over well, and all without the dim one.

Brent McKee said...

Supposedly it was Widmark who suggested to Wayne that he send John Ford off to do some second unit shots.

Wayne was under a lot of pressure with this movie, which had been a dream project of his for nearly 20 years. Supposedly by the time that the movie wrapped he was smoking up to six packs a day just from the stress.