Thursday, September 22, 2005

John Ford

Mary Astor wrote about John Ford's directing techniques in "Hurricane" (1937) in her autobiography, "A Life on Film" (Delacorte Press; New York; 1967, 1969, 1972).
(Courtesy of
Pages 134 - 135 included a section about "a very small Polynesian child" who made a bigger splash as various Chan sons in the Charlie Chan series~~Layne Tom, Jr.!
(This still of Layne Tom, Jr., as Charlie Chan, Jr., with Warner Oland as Papa Chan and Keye Luke as Lee Chan is courtesy of
I saw him do a wonderful piece of direction with a very small Polynesian child playing one of the native boys who were helping in Jon Hall's escape. The boy was being severely, harshly questioned by Ray[mond] Massey as to his activities. And Ray could look very severe and frightening as he shouted, "Where were you, boy?"
The close-up of the child was to be all big eyes and a lie in just word, "Fishing." A lie, and a frightened one. And John [Ford] stood close to the boy ad repeated over and over two musical notes, about a fourth apart--like C to F--"Fish-ing." "Fish-ing." And the boy would say it, and then John, and sometimes the camera would be going and sometimes not, according to his hand signals behind his back. And finally it was all big black eyes and the whooper of a lie, "Fish-ing."
. . .
Today somebody would call Child Protective Services on them!
Maybe we should have "sic'ed" some of Charlie Chan's OTHER sons on them, instead!
. . .
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