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The Prisoner of Shark Island

The Prisoner of Shark Island

The Prisoner of Shark Island

1936 / 96min / 35mm

DIRECTOR: JOHN FORD

CAST: WARNER BAXTER, GLORIA STUART, CLAUDE GILLINGWATER

Nick Pinkerton presents John Ford’s The Prisoner of Shark Island and discusses The Judges of the Secret Court: A Novel About John Wilkes Booth by David Stacton.

"The making and breaking of American myths was one of the abiding preoccupations of John Ford’s Hollywood career, and is very much at play in the magnificent, deliriously emotional, sensorially overwhelming The Prisoner of Shark Island. Dr. Samuel Mudd (Warner Baxter), vilified by history as the man who set a fleeing John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg following the Lincoln assassination, is exonerated by Ford’s crucible, which emphasizes his heroic service during a yellow fever outbreak at the prison colony in the Dry Tortugas to which he has been condemned. The film will be discussed in conversation with epigrammatically-gifted cult historical novelist David Stacton’s 1961 The Judges of the Secret Court, about the Booth theatrical dynasty, reprinted to deserved praise by New York Review of Books."—Nick Pinkerton

Nick Pinkerton is a Cincinnati-born, Brooklyn-based writer specializing in moving image-based art. His writing has appeared in Film Comment, Sight & Sound, Artforum, Frieze, Reverse Shot, 4 Columns, The Baffler, and the Village Voice, among other venues.