"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Saturday, January 26, 2008

SNMR 4.11: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"

Tonight's SNMR feature is "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962, NR, 123 minutes, B&W), starring John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Edmond O'Brien, Andy Devine and Ken Murray. The film was directed by John Ford. This is the first time John Wayne and James Stewart appeared in a film together. The only other time was in "The Shootist" (1976) which was John Wayne's last movie before his death in 1979.

This is a film that I wanted to review last July when I did a month long tribute to James Stewart, but never got around to watching it until yesterday. Westerns have never been my favorite movie genre, but I couldn't resist a film with both James Stewart and John Wayne in it.

PLOT SUMMARY: Ransom Stoddard (Stewart), an attorney from the east is traveling out west by stagecoach. Naturally the stagecoach gets robbed by a gang of thieves, led by the notorious Liberty Valance who mugs Stoddard. Stoddard recuperates from his injuries in the nearby town of Shinbone and ends up settling there. He then discovers that this Valance character often terrorizes the town. Bent on revenge on Valance the legal way, Stoddard tries to organize the townspeople in the territory to apply for statehood. Stoddard becomes friends with Tom Doniphon (Wayne) and competes with him for the love of a waitress, Hallie (Miles). When Stoddard realizes he can't beat Valance without a gun he manages to find one but he's a poor marksman. Sure enough, Valance and Stoddard meet in the street to shoot it out. After wounding Stoddard, Valance himself gets killed from a gunshot wound, assumed to be from Stoddard. So the legend goes. But is that what really happened?

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS MOVIE: Going in, I wondered how a rough guy like John Wayne could coexist in a film with the hardly threatening Stewart. Now I know. This film has everything you want and expect in a classic Western; bad guys, good guys, gunfights, a small rural town in the middle of nowhere, conflict over a woman... but does so in an elegant fashion, typical of a John Ford feature. Coincidentally, Denver Pyle was in this movie too, but in a less significant role than in last week's film. Andy Devine brilliantly provides the cowardly, whiny voiced Marshal Link Appleyard. That whiny voice I've heard before - you may recognize it too - from something else I've watched in the movies or on television. For the life of me I can't place it right now.

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THIS MOVIE: There isn't much to dislike about this film, actually. The classic Western formula is used, so I suppose you could say the plot is predictable. You could also say that the use of a flashback is a weakness in the script if you were picky about that sort of thing. When I realized that was how it was going to be I wondered how they could have told the story without the flashback. Despite that reservation, the film isn't hindered by it at all.

This is an excellent film which is well worth the two hour investment of your time.

**** out of *****



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