If I were being charitable, I'd say Ford was being a douchebag; if I were being honest, I'd say, "Jesus Christ, Ford, who the fuck shit in your cheerios?" But then I'd think twice about saying that, because I don't like to dig. Because I'd have to dig up John Ford's corpse to talk to him. Because John Ford has been dead a long time. Because the passage of time.
Anywho, when I first saw that clip, I thought, maybe, Ford had an off day. Maybe if I saw more interviews, I'd see more nuanced and well-meaning answers from one of America's greatest film artists. And then I saw this longer clip of Ford being interviewed for the BBC.
Well, I thought, maybe this is just a generational thing. These early movie directors just saw directing as a "job of work"—as Ford was so fond of saying. They didn't look at themselves as artists, just craftsmen. So, when younger generations, weened on the films of these old timers, nerded out on these movies, asking probing questions about artistic intentions, the old timers felt perturbed. 'That's pretentious talk, kids; we never intended any of that artsy fartsy crap. Honestly, we spent most of our time getting drunk on cheap whiskey and going mad from syphilis.'
But then I saw this clip from a Howard Hawks documentary in which John Ford's peer discusses his own work.
Now I love Howard Hawks; I respect Howard Hawks; I think Howard Hawks made some of the most entertaining pictures of Hollywood's golden age, but Howard Hawks is no John Ford. He's just not the artistic equal. He was a great craftsmen, but he just didn't have the eye for composition that Ford did. Nevertheless, it didn't stop Hawks from pontificating on the artistic merit of his own work—or, at the very least, not tell the interviewer, in so many words, to go fuck himself.
Although I think Ford was the superior filmmaker, I'd much rather grab a drink with Hawks. That is, if it didn't involve grave robbing.
Moral of the story: John Ford was a douche.