Steven Spielberg has made a tradition out of watching one classic John Wayne movie before turning on the camera and filming his own projects.
Spielberg is one of the most highly esteemed filmmakers in history. But he believes one Old Hollywood director rivals him—John Ford. The Oscar-winner made his mark on the Western genre with his unique vision. So he enjoys sitting down and admiring Ford’s works to draw inspiration for his own.
“I turn on a John Ford film — one or two — before every movie, simply because he inspires me,” Spielberg previously told AFI. “I’m very sensitive to the way he uses his camera to paint his pictures and the way he frames things. And the way he stages and blocks his people, often keeping the camera static while people give you the illusion there’s a lot more kinetic movement occurring when there’s not.”
The director compared Ford’s style to “a classic painter,” saying “He celebrates the frame, not just what happens inside of it.” But there is one specific movie that Steven Spielberg is particularly drawn to, The Searchers, starring John Wayne.
“I have to look at The Searchers,” he said. “I have to — almost every time.”
The 1956 movie is considered one of John Ford’s most acclaimed projects by many. The Searchers is a dark period piece about a Civil War veteran who dedicates his life to finding his niece after the Comanches kill her parents and kidnap her.
Clint Eastwood Shares Steven Spielberg’s Love of the John Wayne Classic
Clint Eastwood recently shared that he, too, admires The Searchers, and he considers it John Wayne’s best career role.
While interviewing with DGA, the award-winning director and actor shared that he is also inspired by John Ford’s movies. Ford often used Wayne as his lead star, which got Eastwood on the topic of The Duke’s best films. His second favorite is Red River, which was also directed by John Ford. Eastwood admitted that he thought it was one of Ford’s worst films, but Wayne saved it with his acting.
The Searchers took the top spot because John Wayne played a character unlike any before, and did so perfectly.
“He proved he wasn’t just a movie star but a really good actor,” Eastwood shared.
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