As big a fan of these three men as I am, there is a level of revisionist history that is impossible for me to accept.
I had to stop reading the book. At least for a while. It’s a temporary interruption I’m sure, but I needed to back off from Three Bad Men. I need to take a few deep breaths and calm down before continuing.
This book chronicles the lives and friendships of John Ford, John Wayne and Ward Bond. Two great actors and one extraordinary director. It’s an interesting read. I have been reading, as is my habit, slowly, savoring. I was enjoying it.
Until I got to the section in which the author claims Ford used Stepin Fetchit and other minorities to “slyly mock America’s racism”.
That’s absolutely untrue.
What I see — and have always seen — is the perpetuation of racism by Pappy. As much as I love John Ford’s westerns, there’s no escaping the racism in his films.
They were still calling Woody Strode “boy” as late as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). Even considering his belated attempt to make reparations with Cheyenne Autumn, it was much too little, way too late.
I’ll get back to the book in a while, when I have calmed down a bit. Right now, I’m sorry. I simply can’t continue reading it.