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'The Essential John Ford' film retrospective showcases legendary director's finest work

John Ford didn't just master the Western. The legendary filmmaker practically invented it, or at least our classic conception of the genre.

The cinematic genius, who made more than 150 movies during the course of a career that spanned a half-century and expanded the possibilities of the medium, gets a monthlong tribute at the Museum of the Moving Image, where his gorgeous widescreen epics and their magnificent vistas can be seen in their full glory. These are some of the most "essential" of the museum's "Essential John Ford" offerings:

'How Green Was My Valley'

Film buffs bemoan the fact that this film beat "Citizen Kane" at the Oscars, but it's a classic epic about generations of a coal-mining family in Wales. It earned Ford the third of the record four Oscars he won for directing. Saturday, 2 p.m.

'The Searchers'

The defining masterpiece in a career full of them, this iconic Monument Valley-set Western from 1956 stars frequent Ford collaborator John Wayne as the loner Ethan Edwards, searching for his abducted niece across a harsh landscape in a film that matter-of-factly addresses the racism and xenophobia that so often characterizes the American experience. July 17, 7 p.m. and July 18, 4:30 p.m.

'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance'

This 1962 classic, starring Wayne and Jimmy Stewart in a more intimate context, explores the role of mythology in shaping our understanding of the West and the crafting of a distinctly American character, as an older Ford effectively examines his own career, summarized in the famous line: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." July 18, 7 p.m.


If you go: "The Essential John Ford" is at The Museum of the Moving Image through Aug 2., 36-01 35 Ave., Astoria,


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