You know, seeing the subject line for this thread, I thought of a
different John Ford...
"Think of it as a wagon train to the stars..."
With those words, was launch one of the greatest leaps ever made by a
director. John Ford, famous as the greatest director of western films,
decided to make a "sci fi" movie called _Star Trek_. Coming off his
Oscar wining movie, _The Quiet Man_, Ford happen to catch a showing of
_The Day The Earth Stood Still_. Impressed with Wise's movie, he thought
he could do a better sci fi movie, a sci fi movie that reflected
American values. As he had once said, "My name's John Ford. I make
Westerns. I don't think there's anyone who knows more about what the
American public wants than me. I know how to deliver the goods."
Now facing a career breaking jump in genres, especially to a genre
generally believed to be no better than children's fare, he decided to
tackle this new genre with both guns a blazing. The first thing he did
was find a script that he could use to make the kind of move he wanted
"First off, I knew I didn't want none of them fake looking spaceships
that were flying in most B-Movies. That flying saucer in Wise's movie,
that's what I wanted, something real looking."
He also decided that he'd use the settling of the American West set in
space, which is why the Fort Enterprise was a thinly disguised US
Cavalry fort, and the local settlement was more Dodge City, than Alpha
He was also able to convince the John Ford Stock Company, (John Wayne,
Harry Carey, John Carradine, and Henry Fonda) make the leap as well,
telling them that they wouldn't be wearing silver suits, but futuristic
The aliens/Indians were to use minimal makeup, so they were
distinguished by their costumes and an early use of an appliance, a foam
latex nose and forehead ridge. Topped off with big hair wigs, they were
dubbed "Klingons" by John Wayne, mainly because of how the foam
appliance was always "clinging on to their foreheads.
The story Star Trek would be familiar to many western fans, a group of
settlers want to settle in the middle of Klingon territory, and it's up
to the troops from Fort Enterprise to protect them.
Because he kept the special effects to a minimum, and mostly to sets and
stages built in Utah's Monument Valley, the hardest part of the movie
"Sometimes I just wanted to pull out a raygun and blast it!" said John
Carradine in an interview. "It was just full of big words like
transmatter teleporter and crap like that."
Ford wisely kept the scenes that involved the Klingons to a minimum, due
to the time it took to get them dressed up and there makeup applied.
Many shortcuts were used, including whole head appliances that extras
would wear in the background shots.
Still, there was the climatic battle between the US Space Rangers and
the Klingon warriors. In many senses, it was the most spectacular battle
ever filmed, even with the blaster beams added in post production. The
sight of the Rangers riding modified motorcycles and jeeps, going up
against Klingons riding heavily disguised motorcycles is one not many
viewer ever forgets. The battle ended in a climatic combat scene between
John Wayne's character Captain James T. Kirk and John Carradine's
character the Klingon warrior Kholof.
It was released in 1954, it went on to become one of biggest
blockbusters for the decade. Ford was nominated for best director and
_Star Trek_ itself was nominated for best picture, which it lost out to
_On the Waterfront_.
Despite it's success, Ford refuse to make a sequel to the movie, saying,
"I now know why no one wants to make these sci fi movies... They are
just too full of special effects and crap."
The Kedamono Dragon
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