With New Yorker critic Richard Brody and film scholar James Harvey in conversation.
Dir. John Ford. 1950, 86 mins. 35mm. With Ben Johnson, Joanne Dru, Harry Carey Jr., Ward Bond. In honor of the great film scholar Gilberto Perez (1943-2015) and this year’s publication of his final book The Eloquent Screen: A Rhetoric of Film
, the Museum presents John Ford’s still underappreciated western Wagon Master
. Inspired by the daring Hole in the Rock expedition of 1880, this low-budget, star-less wonder – made in between installments of the John Wayne-led cavalry trilogy – renders the Mormon journey to the San Juan River in the form of a leisurely folk epic, complete with musical chorus provided by the Sons of the Pioneers. Described by Perez in his book as “a communal story, a film pledged to equality through and through,” Ford himself designated Wagon Master
the film that “came closest to what I had hoped to achieve,” a meditation on the pluralistic promise and vitality of American democracy. A discussion with New Yorker critic Richard Brody and independent film Scholar James Harvey will follow the screening.
Gilberto Perez (1943-2015) held the Noble Chair in Art and Cultural History at Sarah Lawrence College and was author of The Material Ghost: Films and Their Medium. He was film critic for The Yale Review and his essays on film have been published in The Nation, The New York Times, and the London Review of Books.
Richard Brody is the movies editor for the New Yorker’s Goings On About Town and the author of Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard.
James Harvey is a film critic, essayist, playwright, and author of numerous books on film, including Watching Them Be: Star Presence on the Screen from Garbo to Balthazar and provided the foreword to The Eloquent Screen.
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