Sifting through the various packages which are available on DVD of John Ford's filmaking at 20th Century Fox, this set is probably the one which offers the most reliable entertainment, the highest standard of films and the best value. It is worth noting that all of the films, with the exception of "Frontier Marshall" (not a Ford film), represent Ford at his best while he worked within the constraints of the studio system (not necessarily a bad thing) and in collaboration with Darryl F. Zanuck, the studio head and as strong minded as Ford. All of the films have extensive and informative reviews under their individual titles, so here a few random comments:
- "Frontier Marshall", a B grade western directed by Alan Dwan, is a precursor to "My Darling Clementine". It demonstrates the difference between an assembly line western with a tight budget and the achievements of Ford with a much bigger budget and a much better cast for the lyrical "My Darling Clementine". Everything about the latter is superior, possible with the exception of an amusing Binnie Barnes in the part modified for Linda Darnell which Darnell played so artificially.
- Ford preferred not to work with conventional stars and Claudette Colbert undermines "Drums along the Mohawk". While she acts the part, she never looks the part. With her reputation for vanity, the false eyelashes etc are absurd.
- "How Green was My Valley" contains a really good commentary with geriatric Anna Lee, one of the stars of the film, adding her comments.
All of the prints are in great condition and the documentaries provide invaluable information about the films, the studio and Zanuck. The dud of the set, if you discount "Frontier Marshall", is the documentary, "Becoming John Ford", a prototype of pretentious and tedious film making. You will learn much more about Ford himself by watching the documentary attached to "How Green was My Valley" in which Roddy McDowell, Maureen O'Hara and Anna Lee appear or listening to the very detailed commentary on "My Darling Clementine". This disk also contains a pre-release cut of the film and the differences are carefully analysed. It gives a rare opportunity to understand how Zanuck could use his editorial skills to enhance a narrative.