John Ford’s Claim Of ‘Discovering’ Monument Valley Didn’t Sit Well With John Wayne – Old western – My Blog
There isn’t a more instantly identifiable movie location in the United States than Monument Valley. Situated at the Arizona-Utah border, the area provides a visually striking backdrop thanks to its series of buttes. John Ford made the valley famous via his groundbreaking Western “Stagecoach,” and revisited it throughout his legendary career. Over the last 74 years, filmmakers as diverse as Stanley Kubrick, Sergio Leone, Harold Ramis, Steven Spielberg, and Michael Bay have dropped in on the ruggedly beautiful locale with everything from hominins, Chevy Chase, and Transformers. It’s a cinematic sandbox every movie lover is desperate to visit. And we all have Ford to thank for this.Or perhaps not.One of Ford’s other major discoveries was a monument of a man named John Wayne. The tall, swaggering Iowan seemed consigned to a career as a star of B-Westerns until Ford decided he was literally ready for his close-up in “Stagecoach.” His portrayal of the lethally capable Ringo Kid was every bit as essential to the critical elevation of the genre as Ford’s thrillingly precise direction. Wayne owed everything to Ford, and the elder artist never let him forget it.But The Duke had no shortage of pride, so whenever he spied the opportunity to call Ford out, he seized it and squeezed it like Ringo taking up his trusty Winchester rifle. Wayne’s biographer Maurice Zolotow learned this when he queried the star about Ford’s discovery of Monument Valley. According to The Duke, that discovery was all his.How petty was my valley?