Director John Ford directing Victor McLaglen in The Informer, 1935.
Ford had a hard time getting The Informer produced. The material was dark, and Ford’s vision uncompromising. It’s the grim tale of Gypo Nolan, a simple brute who informs on his best friend, a member of the Irish Republican Army, in order to collect a £20 reward and set sail to America with his girlfriend. The film traces Gypo’s emotional collapse under the weight of his endless Irish Catholic guilt.
Forced to economize with a paltry budget, Ford shot the entire film on the RKO lot and used a universe of thick fog to camouflage the lack of production values and, at the same time, give the film an expressionist, dream-like intensity.
John Ford won the first of his four Academy Awards for The Informer.
Notice that Ford is wearing two-toned saddle shoes.
Here in Hollywood, we look for any and every edge. And, hey, if saddle shoes are good enough for the great John Ford, well, who am I to argue.
Karen looked at my shoes and said:
“Don’t you have those already?”
“Kinda. Sorta. Not really. The other pair are white and black saddle shoes. These are blue and tan.”
Color Karen skeptical: “I dunno. Saddle shoes are saddle shoes.”
Did I mention John Ford?
I did not.
Nor did I mention Pat Boone. At the height of his fame, saddle shoes were his trademark. I met Mr. Boone in Beverly Hills a few years ago. There he was, looking in the Ralph Lauren window. I walked up and said, “Mr. Boone, sorry to bother you, but I just wanted you to know that I really admire your faith and your conservative politics.” He shook my hand. We chatted for a few minutes and then he told me that he loved, absolutely loved my yarmulke. Could he try it on? I helped position it on his head. Mr. Boone grinned hugely, wanted to know if he looked Jewish. “You bet,” I lied.
I gotta tell you, that’s my favorite Hollywood celebrity moment.
Somebody once told me that saddle shoes are not Jewish. I was like, huh? This guy said that he associated saddle shoes with WASP country clubs and exclusive—meaning no Jews allowed—Ivy League universities. Look, Jews have come a long way in America. As far as I’m concerned saddle shoes are Jewish, patriotic, and, of course, intensely Zionist. What can I say, I have a deep relationship with my saddle shoes.
I buy my saddle shoes from Muffy’s, an excellent mail order company devoted exclusively to men and women’s saddle shoes. They have some unique styles, color combinations and great prices.
Karen and I wish all our friends and relatives a lovely and miraculous Shabbat.