Clint Eastwood In Person to Discuss Stagecoach at the DGA
Tuesday, April 19th at 7:00 p.m. the Directors Guild of America will be screening the John Ford 1939 classic “Stagecoach”. DGA member and Western aficionado, Clint Eastwood will be on hand for a Q&A following the screening.
The DGA is 75 years old this year, and as part of a continuing celebration of its founding the guild has been hosting a series of events in honor of many of its celebrated members. Selected directors have included George Lucas, Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola. In the case of these three men they each presented one of their own popular films before speaking about their careers and the memories they have from their on-set experiences.
Now, it’s the man with no name’s turn. But things are a little different this time as the acclaimed director and fair-haired cowboy of spaghetti Westerns has chosen to present a personal favorite directed by someone else rather than one of his own films. Eastwood has opted to shine the spot light on the work of legendary director John Ford. Like a devoted fan Eastwood will be a member of the audience for the screening of “Stagecoach” before taking part in a Q&A moderated by fellow director Paul Schrader (“American Gigolo”).
“Stagecoach” emerged in 1939 as one of hundreds of minor films released that same year. The studios expected it to be just another "B" Western, but producer Walter Wanger (“Foreign Correspondent”, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”) had greater expectations, and as he anticipated what they ended up producing was a masterpiece, one that would change the reputation of Westerns forever. The classic frontier morality play revolutionized the genre by infusing traditional Western themes with politics and social commentary. Ford broke the standard mold in which Westerns had become trapped, and established a new model, which continues to inspire filmmakers to this day. And Eastwood is not the least of them.
Reared in that definitive American film genre, the Western, Eastwood's skill as a classical filmmaker is directly influenced by the work of Ford as much as it has been by his mentor, Sergio Leone. From his first Academy Award winning film, “Unforgiven” to his second, “Million Dollar Baby”, Eastwood's diverse body of work immolates the ideologies and philosophies of the traditional Western of good fighting evil and the common man’s struggle to achieve the American dream.
A living legend himself, Eastwood has gone from being just the on-screen image of the great American West to one of the most respected men behind the scenes with a career of extraordinary critical success which includes the DGA's Lifetime Achievement Award. I’m glad I’m a DGA member too if for no other reason than to have access to this rare event where I’ll be able to hear for myself what one cinematic legend has to say about another.