Lest We Forget: The John Ford Stock Company by Bill LevyJohn Ford (1894-1973) directed scores of memorable movies that feature countless scenes that linger in ones memory. He is the only director to have won four Best Director Academy Awards, for The Informer (1935), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), and The Quiet Man (1952). There have been many biographies and film studies of John Ford and his motion pictures. There has never been a single volume devoted to the stock company of actors and actresses who worked for him, some continually, many intermittently, from his silent westerns of the teens to his final films of the 1960s. This book spotlights 112 members of Fords fluid repertory company and includes a mini-chapter on each member of the troupe. And it was a diverse group. One wrote three books on the Bahai Faith religion; another boxed the heavyweight champion of the world to a draw; one eloped with Loretta Young when she was seventeen; one participated in the Yukon gold rush; a photograph of one players ear is the clublogo for a professional wrestling association; another taught Lucy how to jitterbug; one was a legendary undercover agent for the OSS in France during World War II; another was a member of the advisory board to the Bank of America concerning loans to the studios; two were rodeo world champions. All of them, from obscure bit players to barely-remembered character actors to legendary film stars, made substantial contributions to Fords movie legacy. Bill Levy is the author of John Ford: A Bio-Bibliography and Beyond the Beach: The Wit and Wisdom of Nevil Shute. He has been writing his Forgotten Gems column on films of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s for New Jerseys monthly senior publication, Fifty Plus, since 2001. He lives in Mendham, New Jersey. For further information, see his website: www.BillLevyShares.com.
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Lest We Forget was the first feature-length documentary film with sound to be made in Canada. Murray, with music by Edmund Sanborn and narrated by Rupert Caplan. Entitled Lest We Forget , the film was produced by the Bureau, but with considerable help in research and scripting from a committee appointed by the Ministry of National Defence. Sequences were taken from the material Lord Beaverbrook had stored in the Imperial War Museum in London, England , and purchases or loans of other wartime footage were negotiated with foreign governments, newsreel companies and film production houses throughout the world. A total of some two million reels of film was collected and finally reduced to 10 reels, with a running time of an hour-and-a-half.
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It sparked controversy when it was shown across the country in , during the midst of the worst depression in Canadian history, and with a growing anxiety over the increased aggression of international dictators. The film provided a contested venue for what the Great War had meant to a generation of Canadians. But this was no ordinary war film. Many journalists, politicians, and veterans called Lest We Forget the most authentic film to have appeared since the end of the war, especially in contrast to Hollywood fictional productions. This article examines the conflicting discourse surrounding Lest We Forget. While the official film, what we would now call a documentary, provided important insight into the war, and how it would be remembered, it probably tells us more about the s than the period from to But this is only one part of the story.