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It Was the Nightingale:
The Unreliable Story of Ford Madox Ford

1h 33min   |   English   | Documentary

Director: Paul Lewis

Official Trailer_ It Was the Nightingale_ The Unreliable Story of Ford Madox Ford
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It Was the Nightingale: The Unreliable Story of Ford Madox Ford is the first feature-length film on the life and work of one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.


Ford wrote over eighty books, including the masterpieces, The Good Soldier and Parade's End. He survived poverty, being blown up in the First World War and the miseries of passion to become perhaps the greatest writer you’ve never heard of.

Watch the original teaser below


"This is a brilliant film. I have just finished reading it."

Michael Schmidt, Carcanet Press

" I have an image of Ford, sitting at a table in the Celllier du Midi, with a large glass of red and a smile on his face."

Robin Ellis, Actor in BBC's Poldark and The Good Soldier

"He kept the doors of his soul open so that we may walk in."

— Wyndham Lewis



It Was the Nightingale is the first-ever feature documentary on the author Ford Madox Ford


Estimated Running Time:



Production Locations:

Virginia, New York, London


Produced By:

Subterracon Films, Virginia, USA


Production Dates:

July 2011 - November  2017


Special Acknowledgements:

The Estate of Janice Biala & the Tworkov Foundation

The Ford Madox Ford Estate & Michael Schmidt

Fracture Atlas


Principal On-Camera Participants:

Max Saunders: Professor, Kings College London

Sara Haslam: Senior Lecturer, The Open University

Paul Skinner: Independent Scholar and Writer

Alan Judd: Novelist / Ford Biographer

Seamus O'Malley: Ford Scholar

Joseph Wiesenfarth: Professor Emeritus, University Wisconsin-Madison

Hermine Ford: Painter

Mary Gordon: Novelist


Also featuring:

Janice Biala: Painter

Nathan Asch: Poet / Novelist

Ford's story brings together the great names in twentieth century American and European literature, figures such as James Joyce, Henry James, Stephen Crane, Joseph Conrad, Ezra Pound,  Jean Rhys, Ernest Hemingway, H.D., Wyndham Lewis, W.H. Hudson, H.G. Wells, Thomas Hardy and many more. They all have the enormously talented Ford Madox Ford at the center or periphery of their own well-known stories.


The film also features extensive treatment and never-before-seen footage of Ford's last partner, the Jewish-American painter, Janice Biala, footage captured but never released by filmmakers Judith Wechsler and Richard Leacock in Paris in 1993.

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