How Ward Bond Accidentally Sabotaged A Scene On The Set Of The Searchers

It is impossible to think of Westerns and their rugged portrait of American masculinity without thinking of director John Ford, somewhat of a hard-boiled man himself. His 1956 film "The Searchers" is considered by many to be his magnum opus and inspired future filmmakers like Martin Scorsese. It features a leading performance by John Wayne, the perfect example of Ford's ideal male archetype, as well as a strong supporting role played by Ward Bond.

"The Searchers" was not the first time Bond had worked with Ford. Far from it. The actor and the filmmaker had collaborated numerous times over the years — their work together can be seen in "The Grapes of Wrath," "The Quiet Man," "Fort Apache," "They Were Expendable," and more. This long list of collaborations indicate that the actor and director had a fairly amicable working relationship, but personal accounts say that Ford enjoyed teasing Bond every now and again ... and again.

Olive Carey, who played Mrs. Jorgenson in "The Searchers," detailed her account of the film's production in the book "Three Bad Men," a biography written by Scott Allen Nollen about Bond, Wayne, and Ford. Olive was the widow of old Hollywood Western star Harry Carey, to whom Wayne paid tribute in the final scene. Carey revealed that Bond actually caused a hilarious mishap during one of her scenes that cost the crew an entire take.

Shave and a cut

When Carey reached the most emotional point of her performance in a major scene, the gruff director heard the camera operator, Winton Hoch, murmuring behind him. Ford interrupted the scene to question Hoch, who told him that the camera had mysteriously and abruptly stopped running. Ford cared only about moving the show along and never asked what caused the technical difficulty — only many years later would he learn what really happened. Carey recalls:

"Ward Bond had come onto set with his electric razor. During the high point of the scene, he unplugged the camera, plugged in the razor, and proceeded to shave!"

The actress thought that Ford never found out about Bond's blunder, but Winton Hoch revealed the truth to the director after running into him at a party some years after Bond's passing. The way Hoch tells it, the razor story had Ford at a loss for words. The most bittersweet part of it was that, since Bond had passed on, there was no way for Ford to tease him about it — as Hoch puts it, "he didn't have his favorite 'horse's ass to kick around anymore.'" Before passing judgment, keep in mind that in a person as characteristically aggressive as John Ford, chiding is a means of displaying affection. This quote from Hoch reveals just how close the actor and director were, not to mention how beloved Bond was for the cast and crew to have kept his secret all those years.