John Ford would often identify himself as someone “who makes westerns." The understatement and deadpan were a reflection of his personality and approach to his craft. In truth, Ford took the vehicle of the western and turned it into something iconic and poetic. The image of the American West was shaped by his films and the narratives represented his vision of what was great about America. He was a prolific filmmaker but did not churn out his movies in studio factory style; landscapes were beautifully shot and action was dramatic and clear. Born in 1894 in Maine, Ford’s parents had come to the United States from Ireland, and the love of his heritage can be seen in movies such as The Quiet Man (1952), which won one of his several Oscars. Ford followed his brother to Hollywood, working in a variety of jobs until his first directing work in 1917 on a silent film. He made many films during the 1920s but won his first Oscar for The Informer (1935). This was followed by awards for The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and How Green Was My Valley (1941). Ford used many of the same actors in his films - John Wayne and Henry Fonda among them. During World War II Ford served in the Navy in the Field Photographic Unit and made several war documentaries. Ford’s health declined during the 1960s, though this did not prevent him from working on The Man who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Cheyenne Autumn (1964). John Ford died in 1973.