April 9, 2014
In 1929, a tall, burly, Nebraska-born University of Southern California football player named WARD BOND (1903–60) made his movie debut in Salute, about the Army-Navy football game; the film’s director, John Ford, and fellow fictional midshipman, John Wayne, both became Bond’s best friends. Nearly two hundred — mostly bit — parts followed, with a more substantial supporting role in Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) presaging Bond’s star turn in the artless yet extraordinary anti-Nazi gangster picture, Hitler: Dead or Alive (1942). In February 1944, Bond co-founded the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (MPA): “In our special field of motion pictures we resent the growing impression that this industry is made of, and dominated by, Communists, radicals, and crackpots…” With Marxism indeed looming — other MPA founders included directors Leo McCarey (Duck Soup) and Sam Wood (A Day at the Races) — Bond enthusiastically supported both the 1947 HUAC hearings and the Hollywood Blacklist. “I didn’t know if I should like Ward,” admitted Harry Carey Jr. “I didn’t like that outfit. But I did like Ward.” “Let’s face it: Ward Bond is a shit but he’s our favorite shit,” explained John Ford, who gave him terrific role in the sublime Wagon Master (1950) and another in The Searchers (1956) — the Reverend Captain Sam Clayton — that demonstrated, again, that whatever their limits as actors, both Bond and Wayne were capable of supreme nuance within them. Likewise The Wings of Eagles (1957), where Bond’s gruffly warm-hearted movie director “John Dodge” does everyone proud.
THE WINGS OF EAGLES
READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Hardboiled (1894-1903) and Partisan (1904-13) Generations.