Heavens to Murgatroid…I’m no scholar. No aficionado. I have a passing knowledge of one…and am a groupie of the other. JOHN FORD and ALFRED HITCHCOCK are two of the most famous directors in the history of movies.


( Psst! I CONFESS: The reason I even put Ford’s name first is to curry favor from his fans so they won’t roast me on the luau pit. You understand, Hitchcock fans… ) Here are two young men from different backgrounds and different countries, telling stories through images. Their work will span decades and is still revered today.



Fans in both camps have affectionate nick names for these two directors.


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I was struck by these particular moments in both directors’ films for a variety of reasons. These iconic moments are instantly recognizable by any fan of these two men:


I like the similarity of the doorway shots of Wayne and Stewart ( who’ll soon appear together in Ford’s 1962 classic “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” ). Are both men at the end of their rope here? One doesn’t seem to be able to get through the door to join The Family. The other has lost The Dream…the illusion. “North by Northwest” here just represents the Impossible. They are hanging by a thread. Hitch pushes the envelope even further in “NxNW” when he has Martin Landau step on Cary Grant’s hand. The tension is impossible. I love the shot of Roddy McDowall from “How Green Was My Valley.” This little boy is becoming a man waay before his time…seeing things a boy should not see. One grows up too quick, fast and in a hurry in coal-mining Wales. Roddy and James Stewart share the utter stunning loss that leaves them motionless. Frozen in time; not seeing. Am I reaching? Am I stretching. I dunno. You tell me.

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Sometimes we fight attraction; sometimes we give in to it.


I finally saw “The Quiet Man” at the TCMFF last April and was really taken with it. It was love at first sight for them both; but Wayne has to really fight for O’Hara’s love in a way that she would understand and feel. Oh yeah…that kiss in the graveyard when it rains. WoW! I haven’t seen “They Were Expendable” yet, but I want to. How to make love normal, under conditions of war…in spite of war. Besides, aren’t the Duke and Donna Reed so cute together? ( And both from Iowa, too. )  I have a germ of an idea to explore ‘John Wayne In Love’ in movies and what that looks like. He’s adorable and heart-felt. Cary Grant & Grace Kelly. << Sigh! >> Hitchcock’s creme de la creme of gla’mour and l’amour. Fireworks? Hah! What a great metaphor Hitch uses in “To Catch A Thief.” “Vertigo” – my favorite as you know. Is love built on deception, delusion, illusion, obsession not really Love?  Perhaps it’s the love that burns the hottest. Hey, I’m just asking questions.

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Instantly recognizable, right?


Hitchcock and Ford took two American landscapes and turned them into their own personal avatars. I need to see both of these up close and personal. You can’t think of either setting without thinking of the director who used them. They’ve made them their brand. I mean, who does that?

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C’mon. You know you breathed a sigh of relief when both Wayne and Grant take these ladies into their arms.


Both men come to terms with the journey they take to rescue someone they really love. They stop fighting themselves and their pre-conceived notions and get to rescuing. Admitted “fat-head” Cary Grant scooping a poisoned Ingrid Bergman outta that bed is the stuff of dreams, right girls? Who cares if you need a stomach pump. There’s a den of Nazis downstairs in “Notorious” and Cary Grant is whispering in your ear: he’ll protect you. John Wayne as Ethan in “The Searchers.” Hell bent in his search and destroy mode until Debbie’s in his arms. All his hate is released. After all, she IS Family. Ford and Hitchcock show these men come to the rescue. ( …about time, fellas. )

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The mind is a terrible thing to waste…


…But a great set-piece is a wonderful metaphor to use. Each director expresses our hero’s state of mind in a different way. That crazy staircase that is James Stewart’s source of guilt and triumph. He’s cured of vertigo though he loses his girl. ( The operation’s a success but the patient… ) “…Liberty Valance.” You all know the movie better’n than me. I just know seeing Wayne go loco with pain over not having Vera Miles broke me down. The MacGuffins of both movies hide the lovesick pain in plain sight.

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Andy Hardy never had such a man-to-man talk.


Collaboration at its best. I think Wayne and Grant might be Ford and Hitchcock’s favorite leading men. What director wouldn’t want to live vicariously through the suaveness and virility of each man. Big, strong, handsome men of action. Alter egos of each director.

Perhaps this is a cinematic Rorschach test. Hopefully this post will spur folks more knowledgeable about each director, to contribute their thoughts on the similarities of these two men. I’ve merely scratched the surface.

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  1. ‘T’,
    You’re incredible! The food for thought that you lay before we cretins on your wonderfully considered and generous table each in its own delicious platter! You’re brilliant as well as beautiful! I’ll get back to this one but I need time just like Wayne and Grant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whoaaaa! An embarrassing riches of compliments, Marvin. Pleeeeze, someone might think I paid you. Lets just leave it at I’m brilliant, okay? Glad you liked my food for thought. I just got to thinking one day, and one thing led to another. Geniuses, both men. If you or anyone else can think of any similarities between Ford and Hitchcock, I welcome hearing about them. Thanx again, Marvin.


  2. You hit the nail on the head with the two great directors. I used to rate a top ten of outstanding directors an after number 3 (Howard Hawks) I was challenge over who was number 1…I gave up and they both share the one spot. No mistakes by either are evident to me.
    Scene to watch in Liberty Valence when Stewart is ranting about violence over a steak on the floor. Notice election Stewart is ranting in the foreground Wayne and Lee Marvin are eyeball to eyeball three feet from each other both hands on holstered hind saying not a word. Ford has the standoff framing Stewart’s tirade.
    Ford was a master framer seldom using the screen to frame unlike mere mortal directors. Hitch was no slouch, either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t remember that moment in “…Liberty Valance.” Goes to show ya, ha!! Both director used economy to get the point across without tons of dialogue. I like that. And I like that the directors leave it up to us to find out things. ( Here’s my “…Liberty Valance” piece if you have the time and inclination to read it. ) Thanks so much Ken for stopping by. I appreciate it. ( Psssst! My favorite director is Hitchcock. )


      • No argument from me… as I alluded to. I would vacillate between Hitch and Pappy.

        I love how both would use a small group of people in the larger community to tell their story, Ford effect of change experienced by a “family” or Hitch with a long shot narrowing down to the principle characters.

        Both had a wry sense of humor.


      • With Hitch, Ford and Hawks you can’t go wrong. They indeed qualify as “names above the Title.” They were the draw. Hitch literate, suspenseful, and terrific eye for comedic relief…Ford heavy into story, a masters stroke at panorama ( patented Ford long shot), good comedy relief, and he could make you cry. Ethan bringing home Debbie, or Earp saying goodbye to Clementine as rides the long dirt road to Monument Valley.
        I can watch these two genius masters work and forget my stress and relax.

        Two months ago I stayed at Goulding’s Lodge in Monument Valley, same place Duke and Ford stayed. Now if only Hitch had a similar place, I would be there next week. I guess I’ll have to settle Mt. Rushmore. I sure as hell won’t be staying at tha Bates Motel…Cabin 1.

        Note: one Hitch’s assistant brought him an usual letter from a husband who complained his wife saw movies Diabolique and Psyhco and was consequently afraid to bath or shower and didn’t know what to do. Hitch wrote back to the fan and said,…”Sir if your wife is afraid to take a bath or shower I suggest you send her out to be dry cleaned.”


  3. Another favorite of mine ( w/NXNW& Bates) is 1940’sh Foreign Corresponent. Hitch’s 2nd flic in USA.
    America not in WWII yet and rookie reporter goes to Europe. He immediately starts to wise up that things are not what they appear. Loaded with archetypes. Check murder scene in rain on steps hundreds of people standing about. From a distance they look like…birds.
    On a rooftop chase on the Hotel Europe the hotel neon loses the E&L. So as the hero is on the roof HOT Europe is now flashing. (Sly Hitch)
    By the end the reporter is giving a live radio broadcast to USA from London amidst the chaos of a V-1 rocket attack. He’s pleading for America’s involvement.
    I could go on…


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