Archive for April 18th, 2012

By Peter Lenihan

Finding Ford is a biweekly series on the films of John Ford. The next installment will be on The Long Voyage Home.

Here’s the thing about Will Rogers, the quarter-Cherokee vaudeville cowboy who could only play himself and was a better man for it—while hardly a dominating presence in a conventional sense, his improvisatory style tended to shape the film’s around him, whether or not he played the lead. Take State Fair, a lovely bit of Americana directed by Henry King in 1933. This isn’t Rogers’ movie, and while his children spend the majority of the movie finding (or not finding) romance at the annual state fair, the actor spends the bulk of the running time hanging around the pig pen. And although King applies some nice lyrical interludes to Gaynor’s courtship (a couple rollercoaster moments recall The Crowd), it’s Rogers and that damn pig he keeps returning to, and it’s with this pair that the emotional catharsis of the climax resides. (more…)

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