John Ford marathon: Park it on TCM Dec. 10-11

Johnford3A John Ford film marathon is always cause for celebration.

Turner Classic Movies is obliging on Dec. 10-11 with a sked of nine Ford pics — some well-known, some less so — to coincide Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment’s Dec. 4 release of nirvana in a box for Ford fanatics with $300 to spare. The “Ford at Fox” DVD box set encompasses 24 pics the helmer did during his days on the Century City lot, plus the docu “Becoming John Ford” from Nick Redman and all kinds of other trimmings: a photo book, lobby card reproductions, etc. etc.

The TCM marathon unfolds over two nights, starting Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. with a little-seen 1931 comedy “Up the River” starring Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart and Claire Luce. The next night opens with the 1941’s breathtaking “How Green Was My Valley.” If you’re not bawling by the end of this Oscar-winner about the struggles of Welsh coal miners, you ain’t human.

So if you’re not schooled in the Ford milieu, drink some coffee (or something stronger as Ford was wont to sip) and stay up all night, or set the TiVo, or go buy the DVD box set and take your own John Ford seminar this winter. The genius of his spare, un-showy, story-driven cinematic style is hard to describe in words (goodness knows he didn’t care for hifalutin’ film commentary stuff). You’ve just gotta have the experience of being sucked in within the first 30 seconds of one of his master works to understand why the eye-patch sporting, pipe-chomping Irishman (by way of Maine) and his pics rank so high on the list of Hollywood’s all-time greats.

The TCM sked is posted below:

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