By a curious coincidence, in January I was in Arizona and visited Sedona. Its towering red rock mesa's and mountains make for a fabulous setting for the small town that is nestled beneath these natural wonders. Too bad I couldn't have been there in Feb for Beatrice's talk!
I actually wanted to go there just to see the locations that were used in Nick Ray's JOHNNY GUITAR. But Welles also lived in Sedona for some time in the seventies, and it's really an incredible place to visit. Strangely, as fabulous as the red rock mesas are, they are really nothing when compared to the fabulous scenery and mesa's of Monument Valley, towards the Utah border. That is like a place where time has stood still, as indeed it has. There it nothing here to indicate the presence of man, except for a dusty dirt road. In fact, the incredible landscapes of STAGECOACH are exactly like they were in 1939, when John Ford first filmed them, and of course STAGECOACH served as the great inspiration for Orson Welles while he was shooting CITIZEN KANE. There are also very few visitors here, unlike the hordes of tourists that descent on Grand Canyon, which is not to far to the south. So here, there is very little to distract form the beautiful scenery. I was visiting with a friend from New York, and we spent the whole day driving trough the Navajo Tribal park, stopping every five or ten minutes to see some new and incredible view. From John Ford point, you can see the exact place where Jeffrey Hunter goes down to invade the Commanche camp in THE SEARCHERS. And at the Goulding's Trading post, you can still see the Cabin they built where John Wayne lived in SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON.
After we finished a long day drive through the park, my friend from Manhattan, who does not know John Ford movies, said to me, "This is the most incredible place I've ever been to in the United States." I'd have to agree. There's an overwhelming sense of majesty - of spirit - of nature - of sheer beauty here. It' obviously something that comes through in John Ford's many Westerns, but really, even that feeling pales when you are able to stand here and view these magnificent monuments in person. It's a truly transcendent experience! Anyone who ever has the chance to visit here, should certainly make the effort to do so.