Oscar Directors: Ford, John–World View and Vision

John Ford contributed to the evolution of the Western film genre more than any other American director. Ford is considered to be the Master of Westerns in the same way that Hitchcock is the Master of Suspense. He once said in an interview, half seriously half jokingly, that the main reason for making Westerns was that it enabled him to get away from Hollywood into the open outdoors and work without pressure from the studio executives.

In his work, Ford was much concerned with reconstructing American history as with the construction of imagery and mythology of the American frontier.

Nominated five times for the Best Director Oscar, Ford won four Oscars: for The Informer (l935), The Grapes of Wrath (l940), How Green Was My Valley (l941) and The Quiet Man (l952). Ford was not nominated for his chef d’oeuvre, The Searchers (l956), one of the most influential films made, starring John Wayne.

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In 1939, Ford received his second Oscar nomination, for the Western “Stagecoach,” a film that made John Wayne a star. The winner, however, was Victor Fleming for “Gone With the Wind,” a popular epic that swept most of the Oscars.

The other nominees in 1939 were: Frank Capra for “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” Sam Wood for “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” and William Wyler for “Wuthering Heights.”

With the exception of How Green Was My Valley,” which also won the 1941 Best Picture Oscar, Ford’s three other directing Oscars were for movies that were nominated but didn’t win the top award. In 1935, the Best Picture Oscar went to “Mutiny on the Bounty,” and in 1952, “The Greatest Show on Earth.”