June always brings more than its share of newly repriced, repackaged and/or repromoted Westerns and war films. Between D-Day and Father’s Day, it seems, according to the logic of studio marketing departments, men are particularly disposed to sitting on the couch and watching other men do what men have to do. This week, Warner Home Video gives such specimens a whole month’s worth of viewing (and then some) with its release of two monumental box sets, The John Ford Film Collection and The John Wayne–John Ford Film Collection. Comprising 12 major works (still only a smattering of Ford’s 140-plus career output) and several new documentaries (including the recent PBS broadcast American Masters: John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker & the Legend), these two collections make immediately evident that no studio-era filmmaker did as much to both construct and demolish the Hollywood image of masculinity than Ford. With Wayne as his sturdy muse and sounding board, Ford infused the forever-young American cowboy with mythic life in Stagecoach (1939). Ten years and a world war later, Ford tracked the deep lines carved in the face of a frontier soldier by a life of responsibility and violence in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). Still the crown jewel of either of these sets remains The Searchers (1956), released as a two-disc collector’s edition in the Wayne-Ford collection. So powerful is Ford’s visual strategy here that the film could have been a silent, with Ethan Edwards’ descent into mindless ferocity unfolding as a series of entrances, from the legendary opening shot of a homesteader’s door frame to the film’s climax at the mouth of a cave. The John Ford Film Collection includes Cheyenne Autumn, The Informer, The Lost Patrol, Mary of Scotland and Sergeant Rutledge. The John Wayne–John Ford Film Collection includes 3 Godfathers, Fort Apache, The Long Voyage Home, The Searchers: Ultimate Collector’s Edition, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Stagecoach: Two-Disc Collector’s Edition, They Were Expendable and the DVD debut of Wings of Eagles.
Other recommended new releases: Fox Film Noir: House of Strangers, I Wake Up Screaming (DVD); The Missing: Extended Cut (DVD). Also released this week: DVD: Air America: The Complete First Season; Antone’s: Home of the Blues; Black Hawk Down: Extended Cut; Black Uhuru With Sly & Robbie: Dubbin’ It Live; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Two-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition; Cheyenne: The Complete First Season; Dumbo: Big Top Edition; Farewell to the King; Firewall; F-Troop: The Complete First Season; Gay Sex in the ’70s; Glory Road; The Golden Age of Swedish Silents: The Saga of Gosta Berling, Sir Arne’s Treasure, Erotikon; The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things; The Time Tunnel, Vol. 2; Home Improvement: The Complete Fourth Season; The Lost Boys (1978); The Magician; The Mastery of Amos Gitai: Devarim, Yom Yom; Mommie Dearest: The Hollywood Royalty Edition; My Name Is Bill W.; Naina; NBA Lights Out!; NFL Super Bowl Collection: Super Bowl XXXI-XL; Orde Wingat; Power Rangers: Mystic Force Volume 1; The Ron White Show; Shadow Man; Star Trek: Fan Collective — Q; The Syrian Bride; The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada; Underworld Evolution; What’s New Scooby-Doo? Vol. 9: Route Scary Six.