Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968
“If the heroes of Ford are sustained by tradition, and the heroes of Hawks professionalism, the heroes of Walsh are sustained by nothing more than a feeling for adventure.”
• The Fordian hero knows why he is doing something even if he doesn’t know how.
• The Hawksian hero knows how to do what he is doing even if he doesn’t know why.
• The Walshian hero is less interested in the why or the how than the what. He is always plunging into the unknown, and he is never too sure what he will find there.
… Andrew Sarris in The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968
I find the clarity of Sarris’s three- director comparison neither without controversy nor typical of his writing. But it is very representative of the way he looks at film, film history and the center of his focus: the director.
The American Cinema came into my life in the 1960s as it did to many of my generation. And Andrew Sarris’s film counsel has to this day remained a constant in my life. Finding representative scenes to support Sarris’s claim for Hawks and for Walsh posed little difficulty. Not so with Ford. The second part of Sarris’s premise: “… even if he doesn’t know how” eliminates many choices.