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Free John Ford Film Series at the Clark

For Immediate Release

February 22, 2008

Famed American director John Ford followed in the footsteps of artist Frederic Remington in crafting a distinctive vision of the American West. Ford is back in the spotlight with the December 2007 release of Ford at Fox, a packaged collection of over 20 films Ford made for 20th Century Fox. The free film series “A Wild and Savage Land: John Ford Looks at the American West,” at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, explores Ford’s use of film to tell the story of the Wild West in the same way Remington used his canvas. The films, celebrating the Clark’s exhibition Remington Looking West, are shown on four consecutive Saturdays beginning March 15 at 2 pm.

On March 15 catch Stagecoach (1939, 100 min., unrated). A mythic success, this film sets the mold for the Western genre, with Ford establishing the characters, themes, and scenes he and others would return to time and again, while making a star of John Wayne. You’ve seen this story dozens of times, but see the original again or for the first time.

My Darling Clementine (1946, 97 min., rated G) will be shown on March 22. Ford takes on another myth of the Old West, with Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, leading up to the gunfight at the OK Corral. With Victor Mature as Doc Holliday and Walter Brennan as the vile patriarch of the Clanton gang, along with Ford’s standard repertory of actors.

March 29 features She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949, 103 min., unrated). For this film Ford instructed his cinematographer to study Remington’s pictorial style before making his first Western in color. John Wayne is a cavalry officer who longs to retire after Custer’s defeat, but duty calls him to make a final stand against another Indian attack. Victor McLaglen is his trusty sergeant.

In The Searchers (1956, 119 min., not rated), shown on April 5, Ford transcends himself in this searching depiction of John Wayne as an Indian hunter and hater, who travels long and far to find a niece abducted by Indians. But when he finds her, Natalie Wood had been acculturated as a squaw herself, which creates a memorable internal conflict. Viewed by many as the greatest Western of them all.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Remington shaped America’s vision of the West with illustrations, sculpture, and painting. The exhibition Remington Looking West brings together the Clark’s iconic works by the artist with those from public and private collections to explore how he came to this vision and how it evolved throughout his career. Also included in the exhibition are photographs, drawings, and scrapbooks from his personal collection that allow you to “look over Remington’s shoulder” and understand his working process. Remington Looking West is on view through May 4.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November 1 through May 31. Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.

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