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|Two Rode Together|
|Directed by||John Ford|
|Produced by||Stan Shpetner|
|Screenplay by||Frank Nugent|
|Based on||Comanche Captives|
by Will Cook
|Starring|| James Stewart |
|Music by||George Duning|
|Cinematography||Charles Lawton, Jr.|
|Edited by||Jack Murray|
John Ford Productions
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
Two Rode Together is a 1961 American Eastman Color Western film directed by John Ford and starring James Stewart, Richard Widmark and Shirley Jones. The supporting cast includes Linda Cristal, Andy Devine and John McIntire. The film was based upon the 1959 novel Comanche Captives by Will Cook.
In 1880s Tascosa, Texas, Marshal Guthrie McCabe is content to be the business and personal partner of attractive saloon owner Belle Aragon, receiving ten percent of the profits. When relatives of Comanche captives demand that Army Major Fraser find their lost ones, he uses a combination of army pressure and rewards from the families to get the reluctant McCabe to take on the job of ransoming any he can find. He assigns Lt. Jim Gary, a friend of McCabe's, to accompany him.
Marty Purcell is haunted by the memory of her younger brother Steve, abducted nine years earlier when he was eight and she was thirteen. She keeps a music box that belonged to him. McCabe warns her that Steve will not remember her because he was a young boy when he was taken. McCabe is also promised a large reward by Harry Wringle, the wealthy stepfather of another boy.
McCabe bargains with Chief Quanah Parker and finds four white captives. Two refuse to go back with him, one a young woman who is now married with children and the other an old woman, Mrs. Clegg, who regards herself as already dead. He does ransom a teenaged boy named Running Wolf, who McCabe hopes is the lost son of the wealthy Wringles, and a Mexican woman, Elena de la Madriaga. Elena is the wife of Stone Calf, a militant rival of Quanah. The evening the two men leave camp with their "rescued" captives, Stone Calf tries to take back his wife and is killed by McCabe, much to the Quanah's satisfaction.
Running Wolf makes it very clear that he hates white people and the rich man refuses to accept him. However, a severely traumatized and broken woman is convinced that Running Wolf is her long lost son and claims him. Later, when she tries to cut his hair, he kills her. The settlers decide to lynch the boy, despite Lt. Gary's attempt to stop them. As they drag him away, Running Wolf knocks over Marty's music box. He hears it play and recognizes the melody. Marty cannot save him and is forced to accept that nothing could have been done to bring back the brother she remembered. She accepts Lt. Gary's proposal of marriage.
Elena finds herself ostracized by white society, deemed a woman who "degraded herself" by submitting to a savage rather than killing herself. Meanwhile, she and McCabe have fallen in love, exemplified when he gives the soldiers and their wives a dressing down for their treatment of Elena. Then McCabe discovers that Belle took his simple-minded deputy as a lover and got him elected to replace McCabe as marshal. After one last humiliation from Belle, Elena decides to go to California, and McCabe happily decides to go with her. As they leave, Lt. Gary tells Belle that his friend "finally found something that he wants more than 10% of."
The shoot was far from a happy one. This was not a personal project for Ford but something he did only for the money ($225,000 plus 25% of the net profits) and as a favor to Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn, who died in 1958. Ford said he admired Cohn like "a large, brilliant serpent." The director hated the material, believing he had done a far better treatment of the theme in The Searchers (1956). Even after he brought in his most trusted screenwriter, Frank Nugent—the man responsible for The Searchers and nine other Ford classics—to fix the script, the director said it was "still crap."
Nevertheless, he took the project on and proceeded to take out his frustrations on his cast and crew. Not that this was uncharacteristic. Stewart had been warned about the director's behavior by such longtime Ford stalwarts as John Wayne and Henry Fonda—who Ford had once socked in the jaw, during the filming of Mister Roberts (1955). Stewart came to learn Ford liked to keep his actors in the dark about the direction of the picture and suspicious of each other. In Andrew Sinclair's 1979 biography, John Ford, Stewart revealed that Ford's "direction took the form of asides. Sometimes he'd put his hand across his mouth so that others couldn't hear what he was saying to you. On Two Rode Together he told me to watch out for Dick Widmark because he was a good actor and that he would start stealing if I didn't watch him. Later, I learned he'd told Dick the same thing about me. He liked things to be tense."
One of the film's most renowned and impressive shots has been credited solely to Ford's mean streak. In the famous five-minute two-shot of Stewart and Widmark bantering on a river bank about money, women, and the Comanche problem, the film's downbeat comedy, misogyny, and careless attitude toward human life are summed up perfectly. Ford justified the take as a simple preference for a wide-screen two-shot over cross-cutting between close-ups of "pock-marked faces". But Stewart and others insisted Ford forced his crew to wade waist-deep into the icy river and stay there all day until the shot was completed.
The film was shot at the Alamo Village, the movie set originally created for John Wayne's The Alamo (1960).
Although the movie was not a commercial success and Stewart and Ford did not make the best collaborative team, they would work together three more times, two of those in films that took a radically different and even darker view of the western myth: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Cheyenne Autumn (1964). They might not have been the best of friends on-and-off the set but they had a grudging respect for each other. The closest Ford ever came to praising Stewart was when he said, "He did a whale of a job manufacturing a character the public went for. He studied acting." Stewart wore the same hat in the film that he had worn in all his westerns with director Anthony Mann, prompting Ford to remark, "Great, now I have actors with hat approval!". Ford refused to allow Stewart to wear any hat in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, while John Wayne wore the most flamboyant wide-brimmed ten-gallon hat that he'd worn in film since the 1930s.
The Searchers is a 1956 American Technicolor VistaVision Western film directed by John Ford, based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May, set during the Texas–Indian wars, and starring John Wayne as a middle-aged Civil War veteran who spends years looking for his abducted niece, accompanied by his adoptive nephew. Critic Roger Ebert found Wayne's character, Ethan Edwards, "one of the most compelling characters Ford and Wayne ever created".
The Fort Parker massacre of May 1836 was an event in which members of the pioneer Parker family were killed in a raid by Native Americans. In this raid, a 9-year-old girl, Cynthia Ann Parker, was captured and spent most of the rest of her life with the Comanche, marrying a Chief, Peta Nocona, and giving birth to a son, Quanah Parker, who would become the last Chief of the Comanches. Her brother, John Richard Parker, who was also captured, was ransomed back after six years, but unable to adapt to white society, returned to the Comanches.
Quanah Parker was a war leader of the Quahadi ("Antelope") band of the Comanche Nation. He was born into the Nokoni ("Wanderers") band, the son of Comanche chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, an Anglo-American who had been kidnapped as a child and assimilated into the tribe. Following the apprehension of several Kiowa chiefs in 1871, Quanah emerged as a dominant figure in the Red River War, clashing repeatedly with Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie. With European-Americans deliberately hunting American bison, the Comanches' primary sustenance, into extinction, Quanah eventually surrendered and peaceably led the Quahadi to the reservation at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
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