‘The Fablemans’: Could David Lynch Be Playing a Frequent John Wayne Collaborator?

by Lauren Boisvert

Steven Spielberg is working on something new, and legendary director David Lynch has joined the star-studded cast. Spielberg’s new project, “The Fablemans,” is a fictionalized account of his life as a young man, learning to become a film director. Right now, Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, and Paul Dano are attached to the project. Others include Judd Hirsch, Julia Butters, Oakes Fegley, Nicolas Cantu, Isabelle Kusman, and Robin Bartlett. The film focuses on Sammy Fableman, who represents Spielberg.

David Lynch we know from 1984’s “Dune,” “Twin Peaks,” and “Eraserhead.” Allegedly, there’s rumors that he’ll be taking on the mantle of another legendary director: John Ford.

Spielberg met Ford when he was 15, and Ford greatly influenced the teenaged Spielberg. According to Spielberg, Ford sat him down in his office and asked him, “What do you know about art?” He had Spielberg look at all the art on his office walls, and kept asking, “Where’s the horizon?” He told Spielberg, “When you’re able to distinguish the art between the horizon on the bottom of the frame or at the top of a frame, but not going right through the center of a frame […] you might make a pretty good picture maker.” He then told Spielberg to “get the f–k out” of his office, but that’s neither here nor there.

If Steven Spielberg is making a film based on his early filmmaking and influences, no doubt he’ll include that experience in some form. “The Fablemans” will definitely prove interesting, if it’s truly going to put Steven Spielberg’s career into perspective. Even fictionalized, it’s sure to provide some form of insight into his creative process and history.

John Wayne’s Close Collaborator, John Ford, to be Portrayed by David Lynch

David Lynch is definitely the best choice for John Ford, especially at the time Spielberg met him. He described Ford as “and old dude […] wearing a safari jacket, with a patch over his eye, chewing on a handkerchief, with a very chewed up and masticated cigar in his hand.” An eccentric, to say the least.

David Lynch has a similar temperament; he’s odd, he’s eccentric, people think he’s a weird guy. But he’s a visionary, and he’s perfect for later-in-life John Ford.

Ford directed over 140 films in his long and storied career, which began with “The Tornado” in 1917. Many of his earliest films were lost, and don’t exist in any film archive anywhere. John Wayne’s first film with Ford was technically “Mother Machree,” although he was uncredited. He had three more uncredited roles with Ford before “Stagecoach” in 1939. In 1930, Ford directed “Up the River,” which was the film debut of both Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart.

John Ford passed away before he could see how he had influenced Steven Spielberg; but, I can assume that the horizon is not in the middle of any frame of Spielberg’s.