Becoming John Ford: the silent period 1914 – 1930

Mayhew, Steve (2013) Becoming John Ford: the silent period 1914 – 1930. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Drawing on extensive primary research into John Ford’s early films, from the silent era up until the late 1920s, the thesis charts the evolution of what has become known as the ‘Fordian sensibility’ through a close textual analysis of the director’s extant silent films, taking into account the implications of the auteur theory as applied to Ford’s work. A major part of the research process has been devoted to the appropriation of the director’s surviving early titles, in order that all existing film materials relevant to the thesis can be included. Prior to examining Ford’s silent film output, the thesis covers the evolution of the auteur theory, and the nature of the ‘Fordian sensibility’. This chapter also discusses key thematic and visual motifs that have been identified by various film scholars over the years, along with a number of other patterns discerned by the author of this thesis, through a close examination of all of Ford’s sound films, from The Black Watch (1929) through to 7 Women (1966). The main text of the thesis considers whether the identified key thematic and visual motifs can be detected in the director’s early work, and how these themes and motifs evolved chronologically into fully formed components of the ‘Fordian sensibility’. The four main chapters of the thesis cover the following periods: Pre-directing career 1914 – 1917; Apprenticeship at Universal 1917 – 1921; Early 1920s work at Fox 1921 – 1926; Late silent period at Fox 1927 – 1930. This examination of the director’s work analyses how John Ford, the man and the director, became ’John Ford’, the brand, and the label. Using the director’s early silent work as a case study, it questions how the idea of ‘authorship’ is formed and studies how Ford’s style and aesthetic evolved during the silent period due to the influence of other artists; biographical factors; technological innovations; and institutional, cultural and social issues.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page