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Stagecoach (1939)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Romance, Western | 2 March 1939 (USA)
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A group of people traveling on a stagecoach find their journey complicated by the threat of Geronimo and learn something about each other in the process.

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Writers:

(original story), (screen play)
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Storyline

A simple stagecoach trip is complicated by the fact that Geronimo is on the warpath in the area. The passengers on the coach include a drunken doctor, two women, a bank manager who has taken off with his client's money, and the famous Ringo Kid, among others. Written by Andrew Hyatt <dres@uiuc.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Thrills! Thrills! Thrills! See - The Apache Attack! Charge of the Cavalry! Fight to the Death On the Last Frontier of Wickedness! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 March 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Höllenfahrt nach Santa Fé  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$392,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A device known as a "Running W" was used on the Indians' horses during the sequence where they are chasing the stagecoach. Strong, thin wires are fixed to a metal post, then the other end of the wires are attached to an iron clamp that encircles the legs of a horse, and the post is anchored into the ground. The horse is then ridden at full gallop, and when the wire's maximum length is reached--just when the rider is "shot"--the animal's legs are jerked out from underneath it, causing it to tumble violently and throw the "shot" rider off. The trouble was that the rider knew when the horse was going to fall but the horse didn't, resulting in many horses either being killed outright or having to be destroyed because of broken limbs incurred during the falls. The use of the "Running W" was eventually discontinued after many complaints from both inside and outside the film industry. See more »

Goofs

At Apache Wells where Chris rushes in to wake the Marshal to say his wife has run off, the Marshal and Ringo Kid are chained together at the ankle. The Marshal delivers his line but moves his chained leg too far, jerking the chains around Ringo's ankle. Ringo yelps and grabs his ankle. As the Marshal turns toward Ringo to undo the chains, the Marshal is clearly struggling not to break up laughing as Ringo glares at him. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Cavalry scout: These hills here are full of Apaches. They've burnt every ranch building in sight.
[referring to Indian scout]
Cavalry scout: He had a brush with them last night. Says they're being stirred up by Geronimo.
Capt. Sickel: Geronimo? How do we know he isn't lying?
Cavalry scout: No, he's a Cheyenne. They hate Apaches worse than we do.
See more »

Connections

Edited into Laramie (1949) See more »

Soundtracks

My Lulu
(1938) (uncredited)
Written by Wilf Carter
Used in the score
See more »

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User Reviews

The classic film that started it all.
20 September 2003 | by (The Beach) – See all my reviews

The Overland Stage Lines stagecoach is traveling from the frontier town of Tonto, Arizona to Lordsburg, New Mexico. Geronimo, the Apache chief, has just jumped the reservation and starts an uprising. Before leaving Tonto, the passengers are notified by the Calvary that they are now traveling at their own considerable risk but they will be escorted by the soldiers (here's a clue: don't believe it). Among the passengers are a prostitute being thrown out of town by a group of women with their noses so stuck up in the air you could fly flags off of them. She is joined by a drunken doctor, a gentlemen card shark, a meek whiskey salesman, a crooked banker, a pregnant woman on her way to meet her husband, and a young cowboy who just broke out of jail and out to revenge his family's murder. The coach driver and his shotgun complete the group.

It's all based on a short story called appropriately Stage to Lordsburg but also on a French story (Guy de Maupassant's Boule de Suif) with similar characters traveling in a coach during the Franco-Prussian War.

The basic structure of the plot is also familiar to fans of disaster films. Passengers are introduced, board a common conveyance and face a tremendous danger. The exciting adventure of who lives, who dies, will the stage make it to its destination, and what happens next is highlighted by perhaps the most famous stunts in film history by the most famous and respected stuntman of all Yakima Canutt. If one of the stunts looks familiar, Steven Speilberg recreated it for his first Indiana Jones film.

The film is also a lot more. Unlike other westerns up to its time which were mainly shoot-em-ups between the good guys in the white hats and the bad guys in the black hats, it examines very serious social issues and how different people look down at others differently. Besides prejudice, some of the characters are flawed with alcoholism, greed and revenge. We also see the good in bad people with respect for new life and ultimately redemption. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Interior Decoration, Best Film Editing, Best Supporting Actor (won) and Best Score (won), Stagecoach was John Ford's first sound Western and elevated the genre in both critical praise and popularity. The low camera angles in Monument Valley would become a John Ford trademark. Despite doing 70 films, this is the one that made Wayne a star and it's easy to see why. Many consider it his best performance; both subtle and clear he cares for the needs of the people around him and yearns for his own need for a home, a wife and a family. It is considered one of the great films in cinemas greatest year, 1939. Gone With the Wind, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Wuthering Heights, Dark Victory, The Wizard of Oz, Of Mice and Men and Ninotchka were all nominated for best picture alongside Stagecoach that year.

Regarding the political incorrectness of an Apache uprising, well, they happened. If you just happened to be in a stagecoach in the middle of the southwest during an Apache uprising chances are you would be killed. This story does not examine the reasons for the uprising only the effects on a group of travelers trying to travel through it.


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