Friday, September 23, 2011

Five best movie directors in fictional form

Award winning film historian Patrick McGilligan's new book is Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director.

One of McGilligan's five best film directors in fictional form, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
The Dead Republic
by Roddy Doyle (2010)

Although the great—arguably greatest—American director, John Ford, does not turn up in many novels, he is a crucial figure in Roddy Doyle's splendid "The Last Roundup" trilogy. Ford materializes in the second volume, "Oh, Play That Thing!," when he is encountered by the tale's anti-hero, Henry Smart, a onetime assassin in the Irish Rebellion who is on the lam in America. But Ford really takes the stage in the third volume, "The Dead Republic," when Smart, after three decades on the run, returns to Ireland under the impression that Ford is going to film the story of his life. But the director is actually intent on making a happy-ending companion for his grim 1935 movie about the IRA, "The Informer." The tale of Smart's revolutionary past morphs into Ford's quaintly lovey-dovey "The Quiet Man." Doyle nails Ford's tics and traits (the baleful black eyes, slouch hat, handkerchief-chewing) and captures the director in all his perverse glory. The novel also slyly positions Ford and "The Quiet Man" at the crossroads of old, dead Irish dreams and the new national mythmaking.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue