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7 Women (1966)

The two masterpieces that define John Ford’s later period – The Searchers (1956) and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) – are pictures concerned with the futility of violence, with the pair serving as weary ripostes to the classical western aesthetic epitomised by American exceptionalism.

In 7 Women – the director’s final film – the frontier has moved to the east, to China in 1935, where a Christian missionary post becomes targeted by a group of local bandits.

It’s a subversive twist on the Ford western, acknowledging the end of the genre’s heyday while adapting many of its key facets to a new locale and, crucially, to a new type of gunslinger in Anne Bancroft’s salty, chain-smoking missionary – an unlikely Fordian heroine.

With its fury and urgency, it feels less like a swansong and more like the work of a director given a new lease of life.

Dr D.R. Cartwright
Anne Bancroft
Emma Clark
Sue Lyon
Agatha Andrews
Margaret Leighton
Miss Binns
Flora Robson
Jane Argent
Mildred Dunnock
Florrie Pether
Betty Field
Mrs Russell
Anna Lee
Tunga Khan
Mike Mazurki
Miss Ling
Jane Chang
Charles Pether
Eddie Albert
Kim Hans
William Lee

John Ford