John Ford: Maverick Director

Legendary director John Ford, who strongly resented studio interference, was visited on the set of a Western one day by a man on horseback with an urgent message: producer Sol Wurtzel was upset because the film was falling behind schedule. Ford perused the note for a moment before calling to one of the cowboys in the crew. "Ed, I have a message here from Wurtzel," he announced. "I'm going to fold it up and I want you to shoot a hole straight through the name." Ford then held the note up and calmly stood by as the cowboy raised his rifle and fired a single shot. Ford then unfolded the note and held it up for all to see; the bullet had passed right through Wurtzel's name. Everyone applauded and returned to work and the messenger was sent on his way.

[Ford later refused to allow writers and producers to visit the set. Those who violated his rule were met with a question: "Don't you have an office?"]

[Ford wore a black eye-patch and habitually chewed on the corner of a handkerchief. He also kept an accordion player (Danny Borzage) on hand at all times to create the proper atmosphere with such tunes as "Red River Valley" and "Bringing in the Sheaves."]

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