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Molly Wood arrives in a small western town to be the new schoolmarm. The Virginian, foreman on a local ranch, and Steve, his best fiend, soon become rivals for her affection. Steve falls in with bad guys led by Trampas, and the Virginian catches him cattle rustling. As foreman, he must give the order to hang his friend. Trampas gets away, but returns in time for the obligatory climactic shootout in the streets. Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cooper later referred to this as his favorite role. See more »
Although the story spans the late 1870's through the early 1880's, Molly refers to her grandfather being killed in the Cherry Valley Massacre. As that took place in 1778, at least 100 years earlier, that seems highly unlikely. See more »
Well, who's talkin' to you?
I'm talkin' to you, Trampas!
When I want to know anything from you, I'll tell ya, you long-legged son-of-a -...
[Trampas stops talking abruptly as the Virginian's pistol is pressed against his abdomen]
If you want to call me that, smile!
With a gun against my belly, I - I always smile!
[He grins broadly]
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"The Virginian" is one of the first well-known western "talkies." Released in 1929 and starring Gary Cooper who later became one of the great heroes of the western genre, this movie contains all of the archetypal elements of classic western films. There is a lone hero who answers to his own moral code defined by his environment(the frontier). A "schoolmarm" from out East comes to civilize the West through education, and her values come into conflict with the hero she falls in love with. And there is a villain who abides by no moral code, who must be defeated by the hero to uphold his honor and his values.
The classic representations of good and evil through black and white are used extensively and effectively in this film. Cooper always wears white, the villain(Huston) always wears black. However, the most morally ambiguous character, Cooper's friend Steve, always wears a mixture of the colors, and as he continues down a dark path, his colors become darker and less ambivalent.
This is a pretty good movie, particularly the hanging scene, the shootout at the end, and basically any interaction between Cooper and Huston. What makes the movie even more entertaining and fascinating to watch is its context. This movie is considered to be one of the very first westerns to represent the classic elements of the western genre, and its influence on later westerns is quite clear. For film students and fans of the western genre alike, this is a fun film to watch and thoroughly enjoyable. (Note: very interesting comparisons can be made to later westerns, particularly "Shane" and another Cooper film, "High Noon")
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