Kehr Capsule of the Week: Cheyenne Autumn (1964)

This late film (1964) by John Ford came more from the head than the heart: it tries to do for the Cheyenne tribe’s forced migration from Oklahoma to Wyoming what The Grapes of Wrath did for the Okies’ drive west, and the social message squeezes out the drama. The movie is no disgrace, but it has the feeling of a forced march itself. Ford returns to the Tombstone of My Darling Clementine for another look at Wyatt Earp, now played by James Stewart in a strange, satirical turn. You can feel the Fordian myths beginning to crumble, but they wouldn’t collapse until 7 Women (1966)—Ford’s final and most bitter film. With Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, and Karl Malden. 145 min.

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