The most disastrous moment of John Ford’s illustrious Hollywood career took place at the U.S. Navy base on Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean in September 1954. The legendary film director was starting work on "Mister Roberts," the movie version of the fabulously successful Broadway play, starring his old friend Henry Fonda.
It should have been a great project, but from the beginning almost everything went wrong.
The biggest problem, surprisingly, was Fonda. Ford had gone to bat for him against the studio executives at Warner Bros. who wanted a younger, sexier and more potent box-office attraction like Marlon Brando or William Holden for the title role of Doug Roberts, the young Navy officer.
Nonetheless, from the moment they got to the location, Ford and Fonda clashed. Fonda didn’t...