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This week focuses on John Ford’s early Western which we showed at the Tombstone Film Festival as a 100 year anniversary screening.



Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

We recently showed John Ford’s THE IRON HORSE at our Tombstone Film Festival as a 100 year anniversary screening. Taking a complete chance on this decisions since I’d never seen the movie before, I was nervous about the runtime and that our audience might be running for the exit. The complete opposite occurred. Nearly all of our attendees were caught up in this striking, still moving Western film.

The scale of Ford’s film alone makes it worth watching. The staging of cattle drives, train construction, battles, and town sequences are breathtaking. So real compared to the digital fabrications of today, the movie sometimes feels like a documentary, as if Ford’s camera had been there to record these actual events. The film truly could not be made today. No one is constructing practical sequences on this level anymore. Along those lines, the action which includes several horse falls that would never be done today is quite impressive. The actors can really ride and fight, something that is sorely missing from today’s Western entries.

The cast is pretty good too, especially leading man George O’Brien who would go on to appear in some later Ford Westerns. As the expression goes, the camera loves him. He’s a dynamic, charismatic performer who carries THE IRON HORSE from his cinematic entrance to its grand finale.

This has all the components that would characterize Ford’s work. In their earliest stages, we see the sentimentalism, the clumsy humor, the romanticism of friendship, and of course, the ability to tell a personal story on a giant canvas. For anyone who truly loves and wants to understand the Western genre, THE IRON HORSE is a must see.

Watched at the Tombstone Film Festival.