Dear Mr. Ford,

 

I don't feel it would be appropriate to address you in a more familiar way than I did when we met in 1966, even though I'm older now than you were then.

I must say your gruff demeanor was a little off-putting for a beginner. I was encouraged, however, by the similarity in the titles of your early work, Straight Shooting, and my early The Shooting, both playing in the same festival.

As with many of my generation, you were my first teacher. The Informer was the first "art film" I saw. It inspired me to explore that exciting wilderness beyond the confines of the commercial cinema.

When it came time to make a western, my first resource was Stagecoach, followed by My Darling Clementine. I needed no others.

I return often to Monument Valley, a land you introduced to me. I imagine your spirit still lingering in those magical buttes, your images of which are etched forever in our minds.

"Great Spirit, let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset."

Forever your student,

 

 

Monte Hellman

Los Angeles, August 22, 2013