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Wayne and Ford: The Films, the Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  144 ratings  ·  53 reviews
John Ford and John Wayne were two titans of classic film and made some of the most enduring movies of all time. The genre they defined--the Western--still matters today.
For over twenty years John Ford and John Wayne were a blockbuster Hollywood team, turning out many of the finest Western films ever made. Ford, a son of Irish immigrants known for his black eye patch and f
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 24th 2017 by Nan A. Talese
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"I played the kind of man I'd like to have been." John Wayne

What a crazy iconic pair......John Wayne and John Ford.

First of all, I'm a big fan of the big tough guy John (The Duke) Wayne. I liked his talk (great voice) and I liked his walk! As for his old westerns and war movies....many of which are discussed and dissected here....I still enjoy them.

BUT OMGOSH, John Ford, what a total shock to learn about his disgusting "brow-beating" bullying approach to directing. Often humiliating and violent,

Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, biography
This book is a gem and deserves 5 stars. If you are a fan of the iconic John Ford/John Wayne westerns, then you will enjoy this book, which provides a plot summary of these westerns and places them in a larger context, relating them to American society and the role of men and women in today's society along with America from 1930 to 1979. The book provides a lot of detail about John Ford's movie making style. Ford was a bully and an alcoholic. He did not drink while making a movie and demanded th ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Over the span of more than 20 years, John Wayne and John Ford made 14 movies together. Most were westerns, and all of them featured Wayne as a tough but kind heroically masculine figure. A man's man. One of my all-time favorite movies -- The Quiet Man -- is a classic Wayne and Ford movie.

In Wayne and Ford, Nancy Schoenberger presents interesting facts and background on both men, touching on their careers, personal life, health and relationships. I was surprised to learn that it took John Wayne
Jan 03, 2021 rated it liked it
Two legends, one of whom likes to film the other dressed as a cowboy and then share those films with lots and lots of little kids (mostly boys.) Their love was not as perverse as the previous sentence made it seem. Theirs was a male bond that seems sorely lacking in the current atmosphere of today. Both men contributed indelibly to American culture and this book does much to celebrate the complexity of each man's persona.
Stanley McShane
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
John Wayne, a beloved actor, director, and American icon, and film director, John Ford together created the classic western movies that continue to cement the image of a tough fighting, but triumphant masculine legacy. Wayne and Ford: The Films, the Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero might include a misnomer in "friendship." John Ford was brutal to the point of being vicious with his actors while simultaneously wrenching from them their best work. From Wayne and Ford's collaboration ...more
Valerity (Val)
I was interested in reading this book on John Wayne and Ford and their films. Having inherited a love of Western movies and John Wayne in particular, and having read a few articles through the years on John Wayne, I felt I knew a bit about him. John Ford was much more an unknown quantity going into it, but the author certainly did her research in this amazing double biography. I came away feeling I knew quite a bit more about both of them, historically as far as their films, and about their pers ...more
Douglas Fugate
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a dual biography with the history of Hollywood intermingled.
John Ford started filming silent movies before 1920. He hired a crew member to move scenery and other items on and off the set – Marion Morrison. In 1939 he gave then John Wayne his first leading role in a major film – Stagecoach. The working relationship and friendship would endure for the next almost 40 years.
Nancy Schoenberger’s work is an exceptional volume on the personal and professional relationship of the two men. She re
Book received from NetGalley.

John Wayne and John Ford were a well-known pair in early American film. Over the course of their careers, they made 20 films together and I have definitely watched most of them. I grew up with a father who was a huge fan of John Wayne's films and there were many Saturdays where he'd go from channel to channel trying to find another of Wayne's films once the one he was watching was finished. The book gives background on both Wayne and Ford's early lives, how they beca
Joe Kucharski
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
I finished reading Nancy Schoenberger’s introduction – a well-crafted, passionate account on masculinity from a woman’s perspective, mostly derived through cinematic heroes, such as watching John Wayne westerns, although with the obligatory nods to her father – and immediately turned to my wife stating she had to read this primer. In this world of Wonder Woman and where the glass ceiling is arguably (at least?) scratched, this is the perfect time to hear from a woman on Wayne, who was truly one ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
If you love John Wayne/John Ford western films, you’ll love this book. If not, then you won’t. 3.5 stars. This book is an enjoyable read for classic movie fans, and perhaps some American studies majors, but of limited interest beyond.

The author explores how Wayne’s giant onscreen persona continues to set a standard for American views of masculinity and patriotism. Meanwhile, his offscreen life as Marion “Duke” Morrison was less than perfect, marred by alcoholism, two broken marriages, and avoid
Casey Wheeler
I received a free Kindle copy of Wayne and Ford by Nancy Schoenberger courtesy of Net Galley and Doubleday, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review to Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my history book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus pages.

I requested this book as I have been a fan of John Wayne movies and in particular the ones directed by John Ford.  I have not read any biographies on either of the
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this look at one of the more legendary film collaborations of the twentieth century. As someone who grew up watching John Wayne films with her parents, the ones he worked on with John Ford still stand out in my mind. I was thrilled when I spotted this book on the new book shelves in the library I work at, and I snatched it up immediately.

Schoenberger takes us through the course of Wayne and Ford's relationship, from Wayne's beginnings as a prop assistant under Ford, through Wa
Connor Reed
Oct 18, 2022 rated it really liked it
I was very interested to read this book as I've been struggling with my own mixed feelings on Wayne and Ford. Growing up I loved John Wayne's Westerns, but with age they've soured for me due to their blatant racism, hedonism, and violence. This book has helped me to work through some of that and see that more of Ford's films are more nuanced, while Wayne himself missed some of that because of his uber-patriotism. A complicated history for sure, but one that's well worth a read.

It does lose one s
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I grew up with John Wayne movies on in the house - my father is a big fan. But this book is not a biography of Wayne and Ford. It is not a list of their movies along with anecdotes about what happened during filming. This is the story of the legend they created. They created the myth of John Wayne. They gave us the ideal man and the rules for a real man to live by. Schoenberger examines their coroboration and the development of the myth. Without realizing it, we came to believe this myth they cr ...more
Larry Sampson
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It covers all of the John Wayne/John Ford movies and also goes into some of the movies they made apart. Written with a real fan's insight the book covers a lot of territory I had already known but still had lots of new insights. They were fascinating flawed men but together they made some of the best western movies of all time. If you are a fan I highly recommend the book. ...more
Miles Smith
An absolutely fantastic and readable work on the careers and collaborations of John Ford and John Wayne.
Apr 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
Wayne and Ford The Films, the Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero by Nancy Schoenberger
Wayne and Ford: The Films, the Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero
By:Nancy Schoenberger
Non Fiction
What's it's about:
John Ford and John Wayne were two titans of classic film and made some of the most enduring movies of all time. The genre they defined--the Western--still matters today.
For over twenty years John Ford and John Wayne were a blockbuster Hollywood team, turning out many of the finest Western films ever made. Ford, a son of Irish immigrants known for his black eye patc
Roopkumar Balachandran
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
I am a fan of MGR a matinee idol from Tamil Nadu, India, actor turned politician and a philanthropist who is often compared with John Wayne's box office draw. Both the actors in their movies portrayed the same qualities needed to the people in those era. The title of the book "Wayne and Ford: The Films, the Friendship and the Forging of an American Hero" and the image of Wayne stylishly holding a gun made me to request in Net galley, and I have to thank net galley and Doubleday books for giving ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received an advance reading copy of this book, for free, through Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for my honest review.

Nancy Schoenberger’s Wayne and Ford: The Films, the Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero is three books in one. It is a dual biography of director John Ford, as well as the frequent star of his films, John Wayne. In addition, the book takes a behind-the-scenes look at the dozen or so films on which Ford and Wayne collaborated.

Schoenberger did an outstandi
John Plowright
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Many directors have close relationships and work repeatedly with a particular actor. Martin Scorsese’s next film with Leonardo di Caprio, about serial killer H. H. Holmes, will be their fifth feature film together, Scorsese having previously made eight with Robert De Niro, which is the same number which Tim Burton has made, to date, with Johnny Depp. However, the most prolific partnership in cinema thus far was that between Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, who made no less than sixteen films t ...more
Tom Stamper
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: film, biography
You get the feeling that Nancy Schoenberger feels remorse that the John Wayne ideal no longer exists. After reading the book I feel the remorse as well. And although he shares the title with his frequent collaborator, John Ford, this really seems to be a book about Duke more so than their work together.

A lot of the book explains the dynamic between a conservative actor in a town that became progressively liberal as John Wayne matured. Ford, for instance, was a New Deal Democrat. He liked to to
Nov 30, 2020 rated it liked it
This dual biography covered the years of the cinematic collaborations of John Ford and John Wayne. It was not an extensive biography of either man, but rather a biography of the work they did together. The author is a professor in the English department of the College of William and Mary and so her focus was on how these two men created the American Western and along with it the myth of the American West as most people visualize it. The author went into the nuts and bolts of filming and of the v ...more
Brenden Gallagher
Apr 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
"Wayne and Ford" by Nancy Shoenberger is a fine mix of history and criticism detailing the lives and creative collaboration of John Wayne and John Ford. The pages are filled with sharp critical analysis and rigorously researched biography. It is a sturdy and useful text, but for those familiar with both artists and/or the Western, it doesn't really tread any new ground.

A text like this doesn't necessarily need to reinvent the wheel and there is something to be said for a critic and historian re
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Well, Wayne and Ford was a frustrating read. I love learning about different people from the Golden era of Hollywood, and was eager to read about John Wayne and John Ford, both of whom had major success with Westerns. But I would recommend reading another book over this one. 

To start, this was a dry and boring read. In the beginning, I felt that this was written almost as a book for film students to read. I've read many books about films, and generally the author includes stories about an actor
Derrick Jeter
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nancy Schoenberger teaches English and creative writing at the College of William & Mary. She seems an unlikely candidate to write a book on two of the most masculine cinematic representatives of the twentieth century—John Wayne and John Ford—and yet, in her highly readable "Wayne and Ford" she has captured the essence of these two men. "Wayne and Ford" is an enjoyable introduction to the two men, who more than others (on film, at least), set the bar of American masculinity and perpetuated the m ...more
Jack Castillo
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. First, I am a big Wayne fan, flawed as some of his movies are he made some great ones that I still watch to this day: The Quiet Man, Stagecoach, True Grit, The Searchers, etc. The stinkers; well, who amongst us have not made some stinkers. I had some issues with Ford, a personality I knew very little about but whose movies were landmarks in my upbringing: Grapes of Wrath, 3 Godfathers and How Green Was My Valley. Ford would not fare very well in today’s #metoo environ ...more
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have always been a John Wayne fan, so I saved this book that I got through a Goodreads Giveaway to read over Christmas. I have not been disappointed.
The book covers the working relationship of John Wayne and John Ford. It shows the mentoring that both men did as well as the cruel methods Ford used when directing. I learned a lot about the aims of a director as he works to get the exact creation of the film that is in his mind. I enjoyed the detailed discussion of The Searchers, since it is one
patrick Lorelli
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book especially since I liked all of the westerns that they made together and The Quiet Man. What was extra about this story than others that I have read was the part about Ford and the way he really treated the people he worked with or worked for him. I was really surprised at the big named stars that put up with his abuse besides Wayne. Yes, the westerns were good but did he really need to go through all of the degrading that he did. The author takes you through the western ...more
Mark Luongo
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Quite the interesting book about about character creation, dedication to art and devotion to what someone loves to do. Two very different men who came to create an everlasting genre that has been enjoyed by so many.
What I thought was going to be some kind of "tell all" book, and it had its few moments, turned out to be a discussion about what the 'Western' was and is meant to be. In the author's words, "the Western hero grapples with moral as well as physical dilemma. He mentors the young... is
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must read for fans of the cinema, John Wayne and or Westerns.

Nancy Schoenberger’s book, “Wayne and Ford- The films, the friendship and the forging of an American Hero” examines each of the films they made together, their lives both and off screen and the indelible mark they left on the world of motion pictures and our culture.

Stagecoach, Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance all iconic films made by John Ford and starred John
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Nancy Schoenberger is a professor of English and creative writing at the College of William and Mary. She is the author of Dangerous Muse: The Life of Lady Caroline Blackwood, and coauthor with her husband, Sam Kashner, of books on Oscar Levant, George Reeves, and the relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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