Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.
When Senator Ransom Stoddard returns home to Shinbone for the funeral of Tom Doniphon, he recounts to a local newspaper editor the story behind it all. He had come to town many years before, a lawyer by profession. The stage was robbed on its way in by the local ruffian, Liberty Valance, and Stoddard has nothing to his name left save a few law books. He gets a job in the kitchen at the Ericson's restaurant and there meets his future wife, Hallie. The territory is vying for Statehood and Stoddard is selected as a representative over Valance, who continues terrorizing the town. When he destroys the local newspaper office and attacks the editor, Stoddard calls him out, though the conclusion is not quite as straightforward as legend would have it. Written by
Several reasons have been put forward for the film being in black and white. John Ford once claimed it added to the tension, but others involved with the production said Paramount was cutting costs, which was why the film was shot on sound stages at the studio. Without the budget restraints, Ford would have been in Monument Valley using Technicolor stock. It has also been suggested that since both John Wayne and James Stewart were playing characters 30 years younger than they're actual age (Wayne was 54 when the movie was filmed in the autumn of 1961 and Stewart was 53), the movie needed to be in black and white because they would never have got away with it in color. The age difference was particularly noticeable in Stewart's case, since he was playing a young lawyer who had only just graduated from law school and had moved west without even practicing law back east. See more »
Toward the end when the Stoddards are back to pay respects to Tom Doniphon, Rance snaps his watch cover shut and puts it in his vest pocket. He then enters the room and is snapping it shut and putting it in his vest pocket again. See more »
[descending from railway carriage and consulting pocket watch]
Thanks, Jason. On time.
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Although I have seen this movie numerous times, I am just getting around to commenting on it. I measure other films against it when I see them. The James Stewart, John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Vera Miles, and Woody Strode performances are magnificent. It is important to note the contributions of past and future notables: Andy Devine, Lee Van Cleef (Hang'em High), and Strother Martin (Cool Hand Luke).
This movie captures some of the aspects of how hard life was on the western frontier towns and how they sprang up and died later in the era. Also, it it depicts how law and order are just as important today as in that time. Without L&O, you are in just another "third world" broken nation.
A superb motion picture!
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