|The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
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A tenderfoot lawyer and a powerful rancher are rivals in lovet who stand together against a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 04/11/2006 Starring: James Stewart Vera Miles Run time: 123 minutes Rating: Nr Director: John Ford
"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." That's more than the code of a newspaperman in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; it's practically the operating credo of director John Ford, the most honored of American filmmakers. In this late film from a long career, Ford looks at the civilizing of an Old West town, Shinbone, through the sad memories of settlers looking back. In the town's wide-open youth, two-fisted Westerner John Wayne and tenderfoot newcomer James Stewart clash over a woman (Vera Miles) but ultimately unite against the notorious outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). Ford's nostalgia for the past is tempered by his stark approach, unusual for the visual poet of Stagecoach and The Searchers. The two heavyweights, Wayne and Stewart, are good together, with Wayne the embodiment of rugged individualism and Stewart the idealistic prophet of the civilization that will eventually tame the Wild West. This may be the saddest Western ever made, closer to an elegy than an action movie, and as cleanly beautiful as its central symbol, the cactus rose. --Robert Horton
- One of my favorite John Ford Films
Great movie nice DVD extras. Stewart, Wayne and Marvin all fantastic!...more info
- Another John Ford masterpiece
This is perhaps second only to The Searchers in the many great films John Ford directed. Again starring John Wayne as well as the always excellent James Stewart, Vera Miles and Lee Marvin. Essentially its a western which shows the beginning of the end for the old west.
If you watch this you need to remember that although this was made in 1962, and that John Ford had been making films since the early part of the 20th Century (1917). So this has a different feel to any sort of modern film. The pacing is much more relaxed and the amount of 'action' that occurs is limited to two or three key scenes.
However, the performances are uniformly excellent, the script and dialogue are mesmerising and Fords direction is impeccable. What all this 'old-fashioned' film-making allows Ford to do though, is fully develop the characters. So you get a wonderful mixture of sadness, occasional comic moments and a few typical classic western moments.
This is a film that will reward you through repeated viewings. ...more info
- Everybody has an opinion
Well, John Ford has been quoted as saying that this movie was about fame, about BEING the man who shot Liberty Valance. LOOK where that fame took him. The people with the familiar faces made this movie very watchable. Gene Pitney had a hit song about it (not used in the movie). And yes, to one reviewer, sometimes murder MAY be the answer (as in "Slingblade") but Liberty's body was not "riddled" with bullets. He was put away with one shot. And who are these new sissies who insist on "extras" on their CD; who cares about extras? Enjoy the flick! This IS one of the great Westerns along with "High Noon", "Unforgiven", "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre", etc. So lay your money down. This is a classic....more info
- THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE
This is truely not one of the best Ford westerns.It is a classic as far as the story goes.I'm a 100% John Wayne fan..but..to use a backstage when the stagecoach is robbed goes back to the early'50's westerns like so many did in those days to save money.Ford wasn't poor...he could have made it a great robbery outdoors..then go to stage probs like the town itself.I love Marvin..he was perfect..with a young LEE VAN CLEEF to help him.Stewart was perfect..And JOHN WAYNE was very good.B/W was great.Howver Sepenic color would give it the age look..like in the opening part of"BUTCH CASSIDY & SUNDANCE KID".And why is it being brought back out again..I have it already from whenever.Mr.Ford could have use real seneric & give up the expense of WIDESCREEN...I love widescreen..but this movie didn't need it.Oh well.I give it a STRONG THREE STARS. Thankyou, Jack...more info
- Memorably moving western
James Stewart and John Wayne are unforgettable here in what surely rank among their finest roles. Stewart is a progressive city lawyer who winds up trying to bring justice and democracy to the southwest; Wayne is a tough-talking gunman of the old West. Ford, with the help of a memorable cast that also includes Vera Miles, Lee Marvin and Andy Devine, brings incredible poignancy and sadness to this tale about America and its people in a time of change....more info
- Best Western Ever!!
John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart come together to lead one of the most dynamic casts of characters ever put into a western movie.
Who really shot Liberty Valance?
In a story that speaks to true inner strength and humility, the question is answered after the strangest turn of circumstances sees Jimmy Stewart (Ransom Stoddard) rise from humble (almost cowardly) beginnings to become a very well-respected man of the community. It's only later in life that he learns he's made his name on the actions of John Wayne's character...
I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it, but one thing you learn in this movie is that things are not what they first seem. And that makes the movie WAY ahead of its time!
I am stoked to see it available on DVD. ...more info
- THE LAST GREAT WESTERN By JOHN FORD
America's Greatest Director John Ford had at age 67 had one more great Western to add to his canon, Cheyenne Autumn, which followed two years later was well intended, but just average.This story is the story of a myth, but one that is allowed to live on because, " This is the West,...and when the myth becomes the legend, print the legend ", or so says Shinbone newspaper editor Carleton Young ( Ford's favorite WASP ) to Senator Ransom Stoddard, played by Jimmy Stewart, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance ".The Senator is back in Shinebone to attend the funeral of Tom Doniphon ( John Wayne). Stoddard is famous, Doniphon unknown, and here is where the story takes off with Stewart telling Young and Paul Birch the real story of Liberty Valance.
The town of Shinbone is menaced by Valance ( Lee Marvin - excellent) and his gang, Strother Martin, and Lee van Cleef.The town is protected by Sheriff Andy Devine, which is as close to no protection as possible.Valance, in the pay of the big cattlemen wants to be a delegate to the territory's convention as it seeks Statehood. Well most of you who are reading this review know the rest of the story, so I won't dwell on that.
The great cast includes the wonderful Vera Miles, as Hallie, who both Stewart and Wayne vie for, with Stewary winning, Devine, John Qualen, Jeannette Nolan, Edmund O' Brien, Ken Murray, Woody Strode John Carradine (intionally over the top ) Denver Pyle, (and by a bit of odd casting) Ford semi - regular O.Z. Whitehead ( The Grapes of Wrath, The Last Hurrah ) plays Pyle's son,even thought Mr. Whitehead ( who is very funny ), in real life is about 15 years younger, are all supurb. One of the greatest Westerns ever made....more info
- ONE OF THE BEST FILMS OF ANY GENRE OF ALL TIME IS ABOUT A SECRET PARADOX OF ALL THINGS !
PUT SIMPLY -- THIS IS A FILM ABOUT A SECRET PARADOX THAT ONLY THE AUDIENCE WILL KNOW ABOUT FULLY
"NOTHING IS TO GOOD FOR THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE" are about the last spoken words of the film, 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance', and concisely quantify the paradox that gives meaning to the entire film from beginning to end.
JOHN FORD SHOWS US AN AWESOME STORY THAT TAKES PLACE IN THE OLD WEST
The melancholy nocturnal atmosphere of the film says it all -- the glory days of the OLD WEST were over, but many of the participants in the game of life didn't know it yet. Like the dinosaurs, characters such as Liberty Valance and Tom Doniphon were living on borrowed time. Their whole way of life was about to be completely overrun while they and others like them were literally buried alive as the west became more civilized and user-friendly -- to the new users. Settlers from the back east with families brought with them an avalanche of new churches, retail merchants, the railroad, schools, roads and all of the trappings of turn-of-the-century civilized living. This rather rapidly cuased the need for infrastructure, "law and order" and ultimately statehood. On the subject of statehood, the old west took its stand in this film -- and lost!
In taking this stand we have a triangle. Not the love triange between Doniphon, Stoddard and Hallie, but rather the power struggle triangle between Doniphon, Valance and Stoddard. Stoddard [James Stewart] was alone in the fight, but represented the interests of the majority of the people. They were a silent frightened majority who had yet to overpower the small vocal minority that was characterized and embodied in the person of Liberty Valance, [Lee Marvin] and funded by the hidden power of "The Cattlemen".
Speaking logically, Doniphon [JOHN WAYNE] had every personal reason to side with the Cattlemen.
-----> To begin with, Doniphon's rough and ready macho western lifestyle was just as doomed as their's if Statehood arrived. Like the cattlemen, Doniphon believed that men should fight their own battles, and the hand gun was his and their weapon of choice. If law and order arrived, the great equalizer that was found in the hired gun would be erased by lawman, judges, prisons and executions.
Although Doniphon employed no hired guns, he and his top hand, Pompey, could easily stand up to a greater number of hired guns giving Doniphon the luxury of having a rich man's power with only a poor man's wallet.
-----> Secondly, Ransom Stoddard [Jimmy Stewart] was increasingly becoming a rival for Doniphon's "girl", Hallie, as the story progressed. If Stoddard failed, he [Stoddard] would be dead or heading back east -- probably alone, away from Hallie, who apparently saw in Stoddard something Tom Doniphon didn't possess, and Doniphon certainly knew it. What was that? Only Hallie could say.
That Doniphon does, in the end, back Stoddard in a very personal way says something about both Stoddard and Doniphon, both of whom had very decent characters, though Doniphon was reluctant to admit this even to himself.
THE MAJOR PLAYERS - THE PRODUCTION CREW & THE MAJOR AWARDS - ->
-----> THE PLAYERS
John Wayne - Tom Doniphon
James Stewart - Ransom Stoddard
Vera Miles - Hallie Stoddard
Lee Marvin - Liberty Valance
Edmond O'Brien - Dutton Peabody
Andy Devine - Link Appleyard
Ken Murray - Doc Willoughby
John Carradine - Maj. Cassius Starbuckle
Jeanette Nolan - Nora Ericson
John Qualen - Peter Ericson
Woody Strode - Pompey
Denver Pyle - Amos Carruthers
Strother Martin - Floyd
Lee Van Cleef - Reese
O.Z. Whitehead - Ben Carruthers
-----> THE PRODUCTION CREW OF NOTE
John Ford - Director / Producer
Willis Goldbeck - Producer / Screenwriter
James Warner Bellah - Screenwriter
Dorothy M. Johnson - Short Story Author
-----> THE MAJOR AWARDS - how was it that this film was virtually ignored at the Academy Awards!
*Best Black and White Costume Design - NOMINATED - Edith Head 1962 Academy
THE DVD & THE SPECIAL FEATURES - -
Very clean transfer in widescreen format. The only Special Feature is the original theatrical trailer.
It doesn't get much better than this on film.
- Never Been One of My Favorite Westerns but....
I saw this film as a kid on a double-bill with Wayne's "Hatari" With trailers, cartoon and short subject, well over a 6 hour show. But I digress.
It has never been one of my favorite westerns, I've always considered it to be rather a maudlin, depressing film. I bought this dvd in the hope that Peter Bogdonovich commentary would answer many of the questions I've had about the film such as why it was filmed in black and white and why Duke Wayne took the secondary role and second billing to James Stewart. These questions were answered although sometimes there were more than one answer. Regarding why the film was filmed in black and white, we are told that it was a combination of the old-age make-up at the beginning and end of the film, on Stewart and Vera Miles, looking better in black and white. We are also told that the depressing subject-matter worked better in black and white and Ford tells us himself in a very nice 7 part retrospective that he simply liked filming better in black and white than color. I had always heard that Paramount had no faith in the film and did not want to spend the extra money that color filming entailed. This never made sense to me: how could anyone not have faith in a film with both John Wayne and James Stewart at the top of their games? As for why Wayne took second billing and the secondary role, you'll have to hear for yourself.
I enjoyed the Bogdonovich commentary on this and the recent release of "El Dorado," one of my favorite Wayne westerns. This DVD also includes little commentaries by Stewart, Ford and Lee Marvin, taken from Bogdonovich interviews. Like "El Dorado," this includes a nice retrospective, trailer and pictures of the complete lobby card sets.
"The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance" is still not one of my favorite westerns, but I did enjoy watching this new DVD and learning more about the making of this legendary film. ...more info
- A Film for American Studies Departments
There is good reason to believe that the reviewer M. S. Anderson is as right as right can be. Having just edited an encyclopedia concerned with the Old West, I can confirm that the professorial class is keeping this movie alive. After several months of reading seemingly hundreds of worshipful citations of this routine film and especially of its signature clich¨¦--the meaningless line about printing the legend when the legend becomes fact (as if newspapers routinely print the truth!)--I began watching (in vain, as it happens) for references to the film that pointed out that the sets looked like fiberboard structures on the studio's back lot, the characterization was shallow and predictable, the script was trite and sounded clumsy on the tongue, O'Brien and some other supporting players were inadequate or worse, and Stewart and Wayne were not alone in being thirty years too old for their parts. (Can anyone tell whether audiences were or weren't supposed to laugh at Lee Marvin's villain, who is so cartoonishly evil that not only is he clad in black but he carries a whip!) The judgment of most of those who saw Liberty Valance for the first time in its initial run was right: let this undistinguished movie ride off into the sunset, never to be heard from again. What a shame that the members of the professoriate--the radical environmentalists of American popular culture--insist that this waste matter be forcibly recycled through the captive minds of America's young, a large number of whom seem now, alas, to be reviewers and commenters devoted to bestowing five stars on one-star films here at Amazon.com and to proclaiming unhelpful everyone who disagrees with them.
John Ford made some pretty fine films. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, sadly, is not one of them....more info
- John Wayne at his best!
This is a CLASSIC John Wayne movie! I strongly encourage any Duke fans to own this movie. He has often been criticized for his lack of acting ability, but this performance holds up very well next to James Stewart. This is truly a multi-faceted character. Red River and The Searchers are often acknowledged as his best. This one needs to be included in that discussion....more info
- Sloppy, Yet Memorable
On the surface, this black-and-white western from director John Ford looks like a "B" movie. It's long, often overacted and the direction is sloppy. Yet, because of its storyline and the forthright message that it conveys, the 1962 release is one of the most memorable films of Ford's illustrious career.
James Stewart plays a well-meaning, albeit naive, lawyer from the East, who arrives in the small western town of Shinbone and immediately comes up against nefarious gunman Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). Valance has been terrorizing the community with nobody around to stop him. In fact, the only man around capable of standing up to him is rancher John Wayne, but Valance has wisely avoided this confrontation.
Stewart, however, pushes for justice. With the encouragement of waitress Vera Miles, who Wayne is also courting, and the help of newspaper editor Edmond O'Brien, he campaigns for statehood, which Valance opposes. Then, on one fateful night, violence erupts in Shinbone, and the non-violent Stewart must meet Valance in the street with a gun in his hand.
This is the sort of moment from which legends are born, but if the true facts and the legend disagree, then as John Ford tells us, "Print the legend."
It makes one wonder how much of the world's "official" history is more legend than fact.
? Michael B. Druxman...more info
In my opinion, this is one of the first non-traditional westerns. It is dark and complex. The death of an outlaw goes far from making everything right in the town of Shinbone. Life is rarely simple and TMWSLV is more legitimate than your average Hollywood fantasy due to its realistic mood.
John Wayne outshines all of the other stars onscreen. Every time he's on camera viewers will be appreciative. Yes, he is/was a man's man, but in this film he's far more man than legend. One cannot help but identify with him which is not the case when the heros of film have more steel than blood in their veins.
Lee Marvin plays a creative and intriguing vilain but the James Stewart character was a letdown. This is some serious overacting indeed. Stewart has to be one of the most annoying "heroes" in the history of filmmaking. He is a self-righteous characture of a good man and his portrayal is the only reason I can think of as to why this movie will strike some as being dated. We no longer, the general population that is, think of lawyers as being a bastion of truth, goodness or justice. Nevermind though, the rest of the cast and plot shine. ...more info
- A slightly dissenting view
It pains me to give such a classic western anything less than five stars. On the surface, this is a sort of blasphemy when you have a stellar cast and the venerable John Ford at the helm. Yet there are several weaknesses which compromise an otherwise masterful film.
The most glaring problem is the casting of Jimmy Stewart in the pivotal role of Ransom. I love Stewart as much as anyone and he was a magnificent actor, one of the all-time best. However, he's simply too old for the role. His scenes as the young Ranson (80% of the movie), are strained and unnatural. His James Dean-ish wig is ludicrous. He's a 54 year old man trying to play a 25 year old and the results are cringe-worthy. It's the sole example of Stewart overacting in his illustrious career and it's sometimes painful to watch. Notice how he screams his lines when the usual "aw shucks" understatement of Stewart would have worked better.
The second problem are several superfluous scenes which are overly long and, quite frankly, deadly dull. It's obvious that the brilliant John Ford had lost some of his touch by 1961. The Ford of previous decades would have excised these dismal scenes. The most obvious example is a tedious 15 minute vignette near the conclusion, where John Carradine delivers an unncessary and long-winded sermon. What was Ford thinking here? Liberty Valance had just been killed, the suspense had reached its apex and he throws in a dreary, plodding mood-killer of a scene like this? The classroom scene is also extremely boring and unncessary. Ford is still a genius but his mastery is diluted here.
No one had the eye of Ford and missing here are any stirring cinematography, sweeping vistas or anything other than some cheap sets. One wishes the budget for the film had allowed for sets and vistas similar to his famous cavalry trilogy.
Despite these criticisms, this is still an excellent film which just misses greatness because of these problems. Lee Marvin accomplishes the almost impossible feat of stealing the film from both Stewart and the Duke. His characterization of Liberty Valance is one of the great villains presented on film. What a psychopathic, vicious creep! Marvin is magnificent. And in his final John Ford film, the Duke is also exceptional, with a sly wit, swaggering confidence and command of the genre unmatched by anyone else. Andy Devine provides comic relief, as he did in the much superior 1939 Ford classic, Stagecoach.
In the pantheon of John Ford westerns, this film is oftentimes mentioned as one of his greatest. Undoubtedly this is true, but it lags behind the magnificent trio of The Searchers, Fort Apache, and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Also, let's not forget Stagecoach, Ford's first collaboration with John Wayne. To sum up, an excellent film but not in the league of Ford's finest work....more info
- A clever take on that dusty genre...
I will admit first and foremost that I am not a huge fan of the Western. I know, 2007 brought it back, and three of my favorite films that year were Westerns, but as a general rule they just don't really excite me too much. Still, I wanted to see this movie since I've recently become a little intrigued at the man that is James Stewart. I loved `It's a Wonderful Life' and felt that `Anatomy of a Murder' was very well done and so as an actor I wanted to see more of his work. Besides that, a friend of mine ranted and raved this as his favorite Western of all time.
So I gave it a shot.
I'll say this; `The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' has a lot going for it. It has a very tightly woven script that is both intriguing and engaging. It has the right amount of suspense, romance and even political statements that make it feel weightier than your average genre film. It also has some beautiful cinematography and delicately handled direction that fleshes out the scenes in a very generous light. It sports a very energetic as well as commanding performance by James Stewart and features a slew of memorable supporting performances, most notably from Lee Marvin and Edmond O'Brien.
But, it also has a sore spot.
I know that I am going to get a lot of flak for this, but I find John Wayne to be a total conundrum. I mean, really, how is this guy considered a good actor? His delivery is strained, he's not very attractive, and while he puts on this front of being that `tough, macho guy' he looks rather ridiculous in the process. I know this is not the popular opinion, but seriously, I can't stand him.
Sadly, he is the noticeable blotch on an otherwise stellar film.
The film revolves around a small town that is oppressed by a thug known as Liberty Valance. The town is practically scared stiff of the man, all except Tom Doniphon. The town is met with a strange proposition when young lawyer, Ransom Stoddard, stumbles into their town after a near fatal meeting with Valance. He proposes statehood, instituting law into the town, which would cause conflict with Valance. In the meantime he clashes with Tom, who is opposed to Ransom's ideas mostly because they conflict with the way he has grown accustomed; and when you add to that the fact that Ransom is getting cozy with Hallie, Tom's crush; well you can imagine the tensions.
Stewart is engaging throughout, and Lee Marvin is effectively skin-crawling as Valance. I really liked Edmond O'Brien's take on newspaperman Dutton Peabody, the local drunk. He was funny and poignant at the same time; truly unforgettable. Vera Miles isn't given a lot to do, but she does very little very well. You know how I feel about Wayne, so I won't say anymore on that subject.
The movie is very good, and I recommend it to anyone fond of the genre, the actors or just looking for a pleasantly told story, complete with fully embraced characters and the right touches of drama and action. The movie is thoroughly enjoyable, despite my disliking of the films big name....more info
- Tough Act To Follow
James Stewart as the lawyer...John Wayne as the rancher with the heart of gold...two giants who owned the movie. Never did I doubt the connection their characters made...nor did I feel more sadden forthe "The Man Who Shot Liberty" As the movie shows us, sometimes you make the ultimate sacrafice and you don't get the girl...you don't have a happy ending...and sometimes doing the right thing is the only choice you have if you want to be a man...even if it's facing a killer you have no chance against...That's why the two hero's of the story bonded...respect and honor....more info
- "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend"
The combination of John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Lee Marvin along with Vera Miles and a plethora of talented supporting actors from the John Ford stable make this one of the best westerns. Character development is what makes this film so wonderful. The premise is simple: a man builds his entire life on a legend. Told in flashback, Mr. Stewart's character, Ransom Stoddard, sets the story straight regarding the pivotal moment of his life that paved the way for future achievements. Yet, he fails to recognize that his greatest achievement was not in literally doing the things, but in the courage demonstrated in a time of crisis. "Murder, pure and simple; but I can live with it. Hallie wanted you alive. You taught her to read; now go back in there and give her something to read about." And so he does.
John Wayne plays the "noble cowboy" and shy suitor with his usual easy-going charm. Lee Marvin plays the villain, Liberty Valance, with particular passion, serving a worthy stereotype of the sadistic gunslinger. Vera Miles does a nice turn as the romantic interest for Wayne and Stewart's characters. Supporting cast members Woody Strode, Andy Devine, Edmund O'Brien, Strother Martin are all at of the "Old West Central Casting Department." Together, they make the movie entertaining and special on a variety of levels: action-western, romance, lost love, to name but a few.
The DVD quality is quite good. Although some have bemoaned the lack of DVD "extras," for the price, the DVD offers good value. These kinds of movies are rare today and should be appreciated for the pure joy of filmmaking craftsmanship.
- Education is the basis of law and order.
One night years ago I ate out with two of my best friends at my favorite restaurant. When I got home there was a Lee Marvin double feature on TCM, so I watched THE BIG HEAT and THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. Both for the first time then I went to sleep. Ever since then I've considered that to be the best night of my life...I'm easy to please.
James Stewart plays Ransom Stoddard a young lawyer on his way out to Shinbone, but before he even gets there the most vicious criminal in the area, Liberty Valance, robs his stage. Liberty beats Ransom and leaves him for dead.
Ransom is taken under the wing of the Ericson family and their daughter, Hollie (played by the always beautiful Vera Miles), instantly takes a liking to Ransom. Much to the chagrin of local good tough guy Tom Doniphan.
I'm not going to give away any more of the plot, unlike the back of the DVD which gives away the ending! I will say that this is not your average shoot-'em up like TOMBSTONE or RIO BRAVO there is a lot of character and story development here and it pays off.
If you like Westerns or just enjoy good solid films then you have no excuse not to buy this DVD. Just look at the cast: John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Vera Miles, James Stewart, Lee Van Cleef, John Carradine, Edmond O'Brien, Strother Martin, Andy Devine, Woody Strode and Denver Pyle (Uncle Jessie!) all directed by John Ford with costumes by Edith Head! I'm getting light-headed just thinking about it.
D: John Ford (THE SEARCHERS, MISTER ROBERTS)
Tom Doniphan - John Wayne (THE SEARCHERS, STAGECOACH)
Ransom Stoddard - James Stewart (REAR WINDOW, VERTIGO)
Hallie Stoddard - Vera Miles (PSYCHO, THE SEARCHERS)
Liberty Valance - Lee Marvin (THE BIG HEAT, BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK)
Dutton Peabody - Edmond O'Brien (WHITE HEAT, THE WILD BUNCH)
Marshal Link Appleyard - Andy Devine (STAGECOACH, LONESOME)
Maj. Cassius Starbuckle - John Carradine (THE SECRET OF NIMH, THE GRAPES OF WRATH)
Pompey - Woody Strode (ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, SPARTACUS)
Reese - Lee Van Cleef (THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, HIGH NOON)
Floyd - Strother Martin (THE WILD BUNCH, COOL HAND LUKE)
Amos Caruthers - Denver Pyle ("The Dukes of Hazzard", BONNIE AND CLYDE)...more info
- Atypical Ford flick
I agree with my fellow reviewer and Amazon friend, gobirds2, that this is a darker, more pessimistic, and therefore atypical Ford movie. In this film, the wicked prosper as much as the virtuous, and it is much less certain that good will triumph over evil and that law and order will prevail in the end. In fact, it only prevails because Wayne himself resorts to some good, old-fashioned "western style justice," saving Stewart's life and ridding the town of the troublesome and evil Valance. The cast is as stellar as it gets, and I recall one more time Stewart and Wayne worked together. In Wayne's last movie, The Shootist, Wayne visits the doctor, played by Stewart, and finds he has a fatal cancer and only has a short time to live, thus precipitating the exciting finale of that film, when Wayne decides to go for broke against the arrogant younger gunslinger, played by Hugh O'Brien. ...more info
- the man who shot liberty valance
The first time I saw "The Man who shot Liberty Valance" was on TCM.I was amazed at the casting of this fine old western and decided to buy it for my library of old movies. I was not disappointed. John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, along with Lee Marvin made this far better western than most movies were in it's day! It is fun to see all of these actors in their prime, doing what they do best! Thumbs up!!...more info
- A parody
This is an unintentional parody of the Western movie. The cliches, stereotypes, corny lines, and macho nonsense are present in abundance. There are signs of trouble from the beginning, when we learn immediately that there will be a flashback: Jimmy Stewart is shouting his lines. Later, John Wayne swaggers and sniggers, Andy Devine whimpers and attempts to be amusing, Edmund O'Brien does an awful drunk act, things are rowdy in the local saloon...well, you understand if you're over 13. Watch how fast Stewart recovers from a savage beating after he sips some brandy. And don't miss the by now obligatory civil rights salute. The ending is wholly predictable. My educated guess is that John Ford, Lee Marvin, and many others on the set were tipping the bottle a bit too much. This is a dreadful, if often quite funny, film. It was Ford's worst, Stewart's worst, and ranks at least fourth from the bottom in Wayne's career....more info
- Thought provoking western....
This is a well told story about the changing times of the Old West. Statehood and civilization stand poised on the edge of a small western town(Shinbone) anxiously awaiting a push to get started. An unlikely savior comes to town in the guise of an Eastern tenderfoot lawyer named Ransom Stoddard(Jimmy Stewart). After his baptism by fire at the hands of Liberty Valance(Lee Marvin), while trying to defend a female passenger during a stage holdup, he is befriended by the rugged individualist Tom Doniphon(John Wayne). Stoddard brings ideals, law and order into a town that has pretensions for..but not much else. The town of Shinbone is full of good people and all the right things to make it completely civilized. What is needed is a spark or event to move them in the right direction. That spark or event is a showdown shootout with Liberty Valance and an unwitting Ransom Stoddard. The results, of the shootout, catapult the territory and Stoddard on to their destiny.
John Ford shot this film in black and white creating an unfinished, dark atmospheric aura to the settings. It is the kind of movie that hits home in many different areas. Not just a western in the traditional sense, it creates some interesting thoughts on myth busting and hero worshipping. Ford's position here, and perhaps throughout his directing career, was to 'Print the legend'. The movie open ends a fascinating psychological argument, one that is beyond the scope of this review, regarding the way people believe in legends and the force created from those beliefs.
This is another of Ford's works that rightfully deserves its' place in movie history and is well worth owning. By the way if you buy this movie looking for the Gene Pitney/Burt Bacharach song 'The Man who shot Liberty Valance', it's on Pitney's greatest hits or on "24 Hours from Tulsa" and not in the film....more info
- Honest, unpretentious and deeply moving...
Nostalgic, sour and powerful, Ford's "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is one of the most memorable of all his Westerns... It's triggered off, and that's the right phrase, as it turns out, by flashback... The old device works well in the hands of the master... In fact, John Ford couldn't have got the feeling he's after in any other way...
Ford seems to be mourning the Old West... It's a mixed feeling--composed of pride, regret, and a sense of the inherent injustice of life, and certain forebodings about the future...
When a famous elderly Senator Ranse Stoddard (James Stewart), looking every inch the revered veteran political figure, gets off a train at a small Western town with his good lady (Vera Miles) you can tell by the way his eye roves for and rests on bits of time remembered that this is very much a sentimental journey... He's come to pay his last respects to a friend of the long, long ago--a small rancher in those days, played by John Wayne...
Dissolve into the distant story--presenting young tenderfoot lawyer Stewart, eagerly intent on bringing Eastern law-books to bear on the problems of the West... His first taste of the West is a sound beating up, by a man called Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) who is a gunman employed by powerful cattlemen who oppose statehood for the Territory...
Nor does Ranse find any real custom even among the law-abiding... He starts his career, in fact, as a kitchen hand in a caf¨¦ where he's been taken by Tom Doniphon (Wayne) following his nasty experience with Liberty... Ford is at his 'domestic' best in this caf¨¦ which is run by a Swedish pair (John Qualen and Jeannette Nolan) and where Ranse's wife-to-be is one of the employees... Stewart, wearing an apron contrasted with Wayne, pure frontiersman, is something to see in that kitchen... And there's always an edge to their meetings...
It isn't hard to guess that before long the waitress, Tom's girl, is going to fail for the injured tenderfoot who takes on her education... Ranse eventually hangs up his sign in the office of the local newspaper editor, Dutton Peabody, a typical 'character', played by Edmond O'Brien, and from then on it's the story of a territory growing up and seeking statehood, with Ranse Stoddard maturing, too, as the natural leader of 'civilized' law and order aspirations...
But none of it could have happened without the removal of Liberty Valance... Ranse confronts him and the bullets fly but the bullet that actually drops him comes from another Winchester in the shadows... Ranse goes to Washington on the strength of ridding the territory of Liberty Valance, but he knows that the shot was fired by another man...
It's another film about the right man being in the right place at the right time in order to advance the course of Western civilization... Skillful, undoubtedly, but in this case the right man never gets his just deserts--if he ever wanted them, because the Wayne character in his way is just as much a part of the Old West as Marvin...
Herein lies the bitter essence of the film... Wayne, at heart, is as contemptuous of what Stewart stands for--talk and conferences and thick legal tomes as the gunman is... And through him you feel Ford saying that the hard men who had it the hardest on the frontier are soon forgotten, and some of the frontier's simple virtues have been buried with them...
"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is honest, unpretentious and deeply moving... In no other Ford Western does the audience feel so involved... The playing is brilliant--from the smallest role to the beautifully interpreted ambivalent relationship of Wayne and Stewart...
Their acting style are quite different... Stewart had developed a standard repertoire of mannerisms that his public had come to cherish... Wayne's style was spare, clean and unadorned; he stood tall, very much himself... Certainly this film exemplifies a wonderful blending of three great talents, Ford's, Stewart's, and Wayne's, and their seamless mutual chemistry is one of the salient aspect of it...
- More food for thought than any two other westerns
This is a great movie -- easily in the top five Westerns. But I could have done without the classroom scene. Maybe it worked at the time, but in the cynical 21st century it comes across as childish and embarrassing....more info
- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
What a great western. You can't get much better than this one. John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart together for get about it!...more info
- A look behind the curtain on how legends are born
John Ford gained fame as one of the greatest directors of Western movies, creating the mythic template that became the standard of the genre. In `The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance', Ford pulled aside the curtain to look at the reality behind the Western myth - a reality far more complex and interesting than the simplicity of the legend. In doing so, he created a masterpiece that is arguably his greatest film, and certainly a crowning achievement to his great career.
The film opens with Senator Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) and his wife making an unexpected homecoming to the little town of Shinbone to attend the funeral of an unknown pauper. Stoddard had left Shinbone years before and gone on to greatness and fame as the first governor of the state, an ambassador, and powerful senator, so his return to this quiet little town causes a great stir. He reluctantly grants an interview to the local newspaper to explain what motivated him to do so. That story is the body of the movie. It is a story of the frontier history of the town, the story of how he gained his fame - it is the story of the man who shot Liberty Valance. It is also a story that the editor refuses to print, for as he tells Stoddard, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
The story of the young Ransom Stoddard, come to the wild and lawless frontier town of Shinbone to open a law practice is one of moral and ethical complexity. The first person the idealistic young man meets is Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), a tough as nails road agent and the personification of evil and lawlessness. Valance and his gang rob the stage Ransom is in, and severely beat him when he gallantly tries to protect a female passenger. Left lying in the road, he is rescued by Tom Doniphan (John Wayne) a man much like Valance in his toughness and independence, but lacking the black heart, and taken in to town to be nursed by Doniphan's girl, Hallie (Vera Miles). An idealistic greenhorn, Stoddard insists that Valance should be brought to bear by the law. Doniphan, a realist, explains to him that in this town, the gun is the only law, and he had better get one or get out. Doniphan dislikes Stoddard, both because of his greenhorn idealism, and because Stoddard is a threat to his relationship with Hallie. Thus the stage is set for a classic lover's triangle in the battle for the young ladies affections, between the strong, roughly charming Doniphan, and Stoddard, weak and na?ve, but educated, cultured, and idealistic. Liberty Valance and his vendetta against young Stoddard becomes the focus around which this triangle revolves, and it is only when he is killed that the situation is finally resolved. Valance's death determines the future fortunes of both Stoddard and Doniphan, and illustrates the often complex and problematic relationship between law and force as civilizing agents.
Both John Wayne and Jimmy Steward delivered outstanding, nuanced performances in their respective roles. Marvin's role was less complex, but he did a splendid job portraying the personification of lawless evil and mayhem in the Wild West. Vera Miles held her own, though she was surrounded by giants. In addition to the leads, there are many familiar faces in this film that played their parts well, including Denver Pyle, John Carradine, and Lee Van Cleef. Edmund O'Brien and Andy Devine both delivered standout performances as the colorful, drunken newspaper man and the fat, cowardly town marshal, each providing comic relief in what is essentially a tragic film.
Though filmed in 1962, Ford chose to shoot in black and white, and using that stark pallet created a visual masterpiece of light and shadow. He bookends his film with scenes of a train arriving and departing from Shinbone, and with that visual silently delivers the message that ultimately it was the iron horse and not the shooting iron that tamed the Wild West.
`The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' is one of the greatest and most important Westerns ever made. With a legendary director and stars, an all-star cast of extras, and its tragic and nuanced story of how legends are born, this is one Western that you cannot afford to miss.
- It's Pendelton's in a sippy-cup.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a resonating acheivement in film. That, however, is not a new statement but I unlike others will ground it.
This most complex work, of John Ford's, is a compilation of talents. The quality, though, that holds it highly above the rest is its successful deconstructive nature. The Western's various elements are herein taken apart, examined, and then honed to as realistic a nature as possible. Then, they are put back together as they now are, except. . . except for one thing, now, they don't fit anymore. Do they? The righteous sigil of the law can't bring himself to end another's life (our films today ALWAYS justify the hero's killings with self defence, as if it was so simple as that). The Deus Ex Machina of the film John Wayne feels more like the villain than the hero. But, despite these sudden disparities with what we've seen on the screen before the film carries a successful and fluid narrative . So by that, the film acheives the deconstruction genre in its fullest form. Once the pieces are identified and shaped to perfect points they are amazingly, not just put back together but formed into a cohesive whole. That final step is the cruelest and breaks the majority of would be genre studies. It requires displacement of people, places, emotions, and actions. The man that was one is now two. The idea that was once impure and illogical is now entirely possible because it is now in the realm of the real human mind. The film is so exraordinary because it succeeds where so many others fail. To deconstruct a genre it is not merely enogh to have "The Antihero", darkness, or violence. Deconstruction is a difficult progression of story that requires a great understanding of story elements and their conventional use. It is a testament to this film that it is one of the few successes of its kind.
Now, the ephimeral.
This review is for a dvd not just the movie. The film gets five stars the dvd gets one (zero if I could) and those average to three. Suffice it to say that the lack of features, the packaging, and the John Wayne Collection moniker at the top of the box are all insults to this film. There are no notable features of any kind for a film which should be in a four-disk set to rival that of Gone with the Wind. The packaging is your standard keepcase which, I suppose, is acceptable. Lastly, I have no problem with John Wayne but putting that garrish moniker on this film would be simillar to printing "The Toshiro Mifune Collection" at the top of a Seven Samurai dvd. No, as much as I'd do "anything for the man who shot Liberty Valance" I will continue to rent the old VHS copy my local video store has yet to ruin and replace with some trite trash like "The Dukes of Hazard" Unrated. No thankyou, I'll wait for the film to be released in a five disk set, GwtW + 1....more info