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
I just read the comments of someone from August 30, 2004, who had reached the conclusion that John Wayne's character had stepped aside "for the better man," played by Jimmy Stewart. From my view, nothing could be farther from the truth. For all Ransom Stoddard's disdain for frontier violence, in the end, he was left with no choice but to pick-up a gun to finally silence Liberty Valance, something Valance knew better than to do with Wayne's Tom Doniphon. Call Stoddard the idealist and Doniphon the realist, but don't call him the better man. In 1946, John Ford directed My Darling Clementine, perfectly blending Wayne and Henry Fonda with his usual cast of characters to create a masterwork. Sixteen years later, he put Wayne together with Stewart (plus all the ol' gang) and made another peerless film. There was a time I didn't really "get" John Ford and John Wayne. One day, I awoke and now, the greatness of these two giants of the cinema is undeniable.
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