A botch job by Sam Goldwyn, who exercised his power as producer by changing directors—from Howard Hawks to William Wyler—halfway through the shooting. Some sources hold that Wyler shot only the last ten minutes, working from Hawks’s script; others claim that Wyler reshot much of Hawks’s work. But the first part of the film, the best, is unmistakably Hawks, as Edward Arnold and Walter Brennan (in an early part, his first Academy Award performance) fight for the hand of Frances Farmer, against the background of the north-woods logging country. The Edna Ferber story (like her Giant) then shifts generations, and the action loses much of its scale. Farmer remains a wonder, in one of her few fully realized parts as an early and lusty version of the Hawksian woman (1936).
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.