Hugo MarklOne day 1917, while his director was out sick with a hangover, John Ford made his first feature. VOICE OF JOHN FORD: They brought a lot of people out from the east. I mean, the opening of Universal City, Carl Laemmle had a lot of beauty contestants there. And we had a Western street and a bunch of cowboys. And Mr. Bernstein came riding up and he says: “You’re the first assistant, you gotta shoot something while he’s here. There’s a big bunch of people, over 100.” I said, “What will I do?” He says, “Do anything. You know, you let them ride back and forth.” So they rode through the streets shooting at everything, you know, for no reason at all. And I said to Mr. Bernstein, “And how was that?” And he says, “Fine.” He says he talked with Mr. Laemmle. He says, “Keep on working.” I says, “What will I do?” He says, “Have them ride back.” So they rode back shooting. Then he says, “Can’t you have a couple of falls in there?” I said, “Oh, that will be easy.” But these girls are all very pretty. And the cowboys are sort of straightening their kerchiefs up, straightening their hats and trying to look as pretty as possible and shining up to these gals. So, I says, “I’ll fire a pistol, and you, you and you do a horse fall, all fall off your horse.” Well, the cowboys looked at one another. So I fired the shot. And then every cowboy – I think there were 30 of them. They all fell off their horses. And I said to Mr. Bernstein, “That’s about it, isn’t it?” He says, “Oh, no, keep on going. What can you do now?” So I put a lot of kerosene and gasoline on the place and burnt the town down. Of course, the sets were cheap. You know, just built of plywood. And everything didn’t cost anything. So I burnt the town down, and they thought it was great. And they had a picture coming up with Harry Carey. And they had no director, and Mr. Laemmle says: “That John Ford, he yells real loud. He’d make a good director.”

January 16 – February 27, 2010
Images courtesy of Eva Presenhuber, Zurich

Exhibition Images

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