I just saw that a 2 hour long documentary about Henry Ford will be on PBS's, "American Experience" series, tonight (6/25/13) at 8:00pm until 10:00pm. I saw a preview and it looks like it will be pretty comprehensive, not only covering his attributes, but his flaws as well. Jim Patrick
Right on. Even here in Canada, I found the channel. Will be watching for sure. Thanks for posting.
Thanks for the heads up Jim.
Is this the same program that was on last winter?
Yep, a repeat. Pretty good. Warts and all.
Well done! Left out some things like the Peace Ship fiasco, but they only had 2 hours and had to concentrate on more important things that made the man what he was.
Poor Edsel. What a good man that deserved better and could have given so much more had his spirit not been destroyed so completely by his father's cruelty. Jim Patrick
Well said Jim. I watched it last night. I didn't know of that 1919 'ploy' that Henry and Edsel used to buy back all the Ford stock. Lots of neat video of Model Ts during the twenties. .
Ol' Henry was a real piece of work.
I didn't see it the first time it aired, but I was able to watch it last night. I always knew ol' Henry had some character flaws, but I guess I didn't realize the extent.
I don't think I have ever seen a documentary on Henry Ford that didn't mix up factory production film, running the gamut from showing 1926-27 scenes when the early Model T was being discussed or vice-versa. One also sees Model T parts being carried overhead through the factory on a conveyor belt while the Model A is under discussion. Same thing happened in last night's otherwise fine documentary. This was especially noticeable when so much time was spent discussing the Model T's introduction and its impact upon the motoring world while various scenes of 1920's Model T's were being shown, including some of a 1926 Coupe with the crooked front license plate slugging through a muddy, rutted country road! It leaves the impression that Model T's could have been purchased EITHER with brass radiators or black steel shrouded ones. It probably doesn't make a tinker's dam (interesting story behind that expression, by the way) to the general public who couldn't tell the difference between a 1919 and 1931 Ford anyway. But one would think that the documentary's producers had to know that the MAIN audience watching their film would be antique Ford collectors and afficienados, who can spot an out-of-place factory scene the first second it appears. As much time as film researchers spend going through miles of film to find appropriate images to match the spoken word, one would think a little extra money could be allotted for hiring an "expert" from the Model A and T world to sit with the researcher and identify years in the film being considered for use. That way, internet postings like this one could be avoided.
That being said, I was surprised how quickly the two hours passed that I watched the Ford documentary last night! That's quite an accomplishment on the producers' part because I am a critical person in film and video terms. I earned my living in that field, so I am seldom left without comment after watching historical documentaries and biographies. Yes, there were significant omissions in last night's documentary, such as the 1915 Peace Ship debacle (as well-intentioned as it was), Henry's failed attempts to be elected to political office, his victory getting the Selden Patent repealed that was costing him money on every engine he built, and his dalliances that may or may not have produced a son out-of-wedlock. Each of these instances affected Henry Ford's subsequent actions and viewpoints, and bringing these points out may have helped the viewer to better understand Henry's personality and opinions. But I do agree that overall, this documentary was pretty well done and it certainly provides the lay person viewer with more than enough information about Henry Ford's life to judge him one way or another. On the whole, I thought it was well balanced, showing both the heads and tails on Henry Ford's coin.
The major misspeak that I caught occurred during the discussion of the Model T's introduction. The narrator said that an electrical system included a generator to charge the battery and operate the lights. This was true ten years later beginning with the 1919 Model T, but not with the early ones (1908-1918) that were without starter, generator and electric lights. I doubt that 1 out of 1000 viewers caught that anachronism, however. There may have been more such errors, but that's the one that stood out to me.
I too think was very well done, Marshall. One "misspeak" I caught was that the first Model T's were green, then later black only. New information.
While Henry Ford had many flaws as a human being, last night's documentary, through archival film footage, showed what an utter genius he was. When you look at the River Rouge Plant, which was a gigantic, totally self contained series of plants that needed to rely on no one, but itself for materials. When one stops and realizes that all of it was envisioned in the mind of one man and became a reality through determination, confidence and ambition of that same man, it is astounding. There was one shot from overhead of the plant where the fenders and body parts were stamped by massive one purpose machines, which had to have been designed by Henry Ford (or Edsel) for the one body part they were designed to make. This room was packed solid with these massive presses and stamping machines from floor to ceiling and one wonders how one man could have organized such a massive project into such a well oiled machine that employed 75,000 workers in three 8 hour shifts. He was truly one of a kind and the reason he trusted no one, but himself, is because no one could dream as big as him or possess the ability to bring those dreams to reality. Its' no wonder that he didn't like to be around other people and spent so much time alone, because no one but a genius on the same level as him, like his best and possibly only friend, Thomas Edison could measure up to his level of accomplishment and ability.
It is really sad what happened to Edsel. I'm sure after his only son was gone, Henry had alot of time to think about what he had done to cause his death and, as the documentary pointed out, Henry was never the same after Edsel's death, so great was the guilt and regret he felt. All his life, Edsel was his father's greatest admirer and supporter, but Henry never acknowledged or appreciated Edsels genius and goodness, which destroyed him. What an incredible waste. Jim Patrick
I thought that libel trial where Henry was humiliated over his worldly ignorance heralded the beginnings of his introspective downward spiral. It then seemed that after Edsel's death in '43 the documentary people presented some pictures of Henry showing much advanced age. Yeah Jim, he was an incredible visionary. And to think that he could've focused his vision on his agrarian interests like designing dairy parlors, plant propagating or bovine improvement. Aren't we the fortunate benefactors of his mechanical tinkerings now!
That documentary was shown the first time in 2009, I think.
Does anyone know where Henry got the name Greenfield Village?
The PBS program guide on cable stated 2013, but perhaps it was updated from an earlier version and re-copyrighted this year?
Henry's wife was from a town in Michigan named Greenfield. He added "Field" to distinguish the two from each other.
Marshall, You are right. No prize
Do you mean "no prize" for getting the right answer, or that I'm "no prize"?
No prize for getting the correct answer.
Why would I say your "no prize" Do you have an inferiority complex.
No, but I do have a sense of humor - something perhaps lacking in other quarters.
You must be on your period or something. I met nothing by what I said. I put up a question as a conservation piece and you make a big deal about it.
Sorry I replied to your remarks.
You are one of these guys on this forum that makes it so unpleasant to be a member of.
Richard. Please have another look at Marshall's 5:53pm post which he ended with a smiley face, which denotes that he was joking, or that no disrespect was intended. He is now, no doubt, sitting there with a puzzled look on his face, staring at the screen, wondering what he did to make you mad. I know I am. Jim Patrick
Henry Ford was basically a funnel.
He gathered together exactly the right type of investors, like the Dodge Brothers, Alexander Malcolmson, and Charles Bennett; engineering geniuses like Josef Galamb, C. Harold Wills, Spider Huff and William Knudsen; production men like Charles Sorensen, Ernest Kanzler and Peter Martin; and sharp businessmen like James Couzens. They all went into the wide end of the funnel and Ford Motor Company and the Model T came out the other end. Then, with few exceptions, those who believed in Henry Ford and invested in him, be it with money or blood, sweat, tears and loyalty, were simply discarded—frequently in a heartless and undignified manner.
Without these people, Henry Ford was little more than a superbly gifted and intuitive mechanic—and if you can stretch the definition of engineer to include someone who cannot read blueprints or working drawings, I guess you could call him that—but in no way was he in the same class as authentic engineering geniuses like Nikola Tesla (whose intellect would put Leonardo Da Vinci to shame). What Ford was, was damn lucky to be in the right place at the right time, when the right people happened to be available, and audacious enough to take enormous risks (as he did with the Selden Patent battle, which might have ruined him, had the coin landed the other way).
As a human being, Ford was an uneducated, demonstrably ignorant, megalomaniacal dictator who became worse and worse as his success increased. He ruled through the iron fist of underworld thug, Harry Bennett, who literally beat assembly line workers into submission. Ford's personal relations were a horror story and to cement that point, one need only mention the names of his two sons, Edsel Ford and John Dahlinger, and his mistress, Evangeline Cote Dahlinger, who, like so many others, were either systematically consumed, destroyed or simply discarded.
Yes, Henry Ford was a visionary, but his vision was built squarely on the shoulders of other people, and whether personally or in business, when you shook hands with Henry Ford, you counted your fingers immediately afterward.
Bob - Interestingly enough, I believe there is another comparable story within the history of FoMoCo. A great man, however with a completely different and much more honorable type of personality, but the so-called "Father of the Mustang" also seems to have gotten most of the credit for a car that was largely the creation of several other brilliant men that really deserved some of the credit!
I believe James Couzens was the father of the famous $5 day.
According to Charles E. Sorensen, who, at the time of the writing of his book, "MY FORTY YEARS WITH FORD," claimed to be the only surviving eye-witness of the decision for the $5-day, it happened on a Sunday morning in January of 1914. In the book, he says, "Myth also surrounds the participants at that Sunday morning meeting. Couzens, Wills, and Hawkins were said to have been there. They were not. The only ones present were Mr. Ford, Ed Martin, Lee and I."
It's a heck of an interesting book, available on half.com for about $30. Without a doubt, it's as biased as any other autobiographical account and Mr. Sorensen portrays himself as a stable and composed professional, not the "grenade-tempered" SOB every line worker feared.