ming movie reviews

in about 100 words or less

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

US 123m, B&W
Director: Cast: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Edmond O’Brien, Woody Strode, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Lee Van Cleef

After learning who actually shot Liberty Valence, a newspaper man’s comments that “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend” is an apt summation of a most interesting Western film. Told as a flashback, when the town of Shinbone was still untamed, The Man Who shot Liberty Valance has an unexpectedly complex plot, particularly for a Western shot in early 1960s. With two very different kinds of co-lead characters: Stoddard (Stewart) – a lawyer who has an aversion to guns, and Doniphon – a heroic rancher (Wayne) with a fondness for the word “Pilgrim” and his trusty six-shooter, Ford offers up a juxtaposition of the old versus the new west in what is a delightfully melodramatic story of love, friendship and honor (Klaus Ming November 2012).

2 comments on “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

  1. Anthony Lee Collins
    11/16/2012

    I had a friend who saw this in college, as part of a film course. In those days to show a film you had to have a 16mm print, and because they were showing the film on Friday they had the print over the weekend before they had to sent it back on Monday. They screened the film pretty much continuously over the weekend, studying it.

    The themes (about the legend and the facts of the old west, and about what had to be done to “tame” the west) were ones Ford had dealt with before in different ways (and about which he didn’t give simple answers), but the way this film was shot (on the back lot as opposed to on location) gives it a somewhat different feeling: less realistic, more focused on the abstract points he was making.

    (The theory about why it was shot in black and white was that it was an attempt to disguise the fact that Wayne and Stewart were both much too old for the characters they were playing.)

    • Klaus
      11/16/2012

      The more Ford films I watch, the more i’m beginning to appreciate what he was trying to do.

      I hadn’t heard about the B&W theory. Interesting. They were both a little long in the tooth 🙂

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This entry was posted on 11/15/2012 by in 1001 List, 1960s, All and tagged .
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