The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) Poster


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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.
Valance addresses several characters as "dude." From the 1870s to 1960s, this was a pejorative term with the approximate meaning of "overdressed city slicker," usually applied to city dwellers visiting rural areas. In the 1960s, surfer culture adapted the term to mean "friend" or "companion."
When Dutton Peabody stumbles back drunk to his newspaper office, he partially recites the Saint Crispin's Day speech from William Shakespeare's "Henry V". The speech, given just before Henry V's army defeats a superior French force, foreshadows the upcoming gun battle between Ransom Stoddard and gunslinger Liberty Valance.
Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) refers to Valance as "... the toughest man south of the Picketwire," then adds, "next to me!" The Picketwire is not a wire fence dividing line; it was slang for the Purgatoire River, which flows into the Arkansas.
O.Z. Whitehead, playing a teenager, was actually 50 years old.
First occasion of John Wayne calling someone "Pilgrim".
At the time of release, this was dismissed as a lesser work from a once-great director and was stuck on the bottom half of double-bills.
John Ford deliberately shot this film on soundstages in an effort to distance it from his Monument Valley epics.
In promotional posters for the film, James Stewart appears to be billed first; however, in the film itself, John Wayne's screen card appears first, followed by Stewart's. In addition the studio ordered all theater managers to place Wayne's name before Stewart's on their marquees.
Lee Marvin (Liberty Valance), Strother Martin (Floyd) and Lee Van Cleef (Reese) had previously appeared together in Twilight Zone: The Grave (1961)), which aired 27 Oct 1961.
In the scene where Stoddard is carried into the "Peter's Place" kitchen wounded, Nora (Jeanette Nolan) gives him a cup of coffee laced with what she describes as "Akvavit, Swedish brandy" - the bottle is, in fact, a quite recognizable Akvavit bottle. The drink is found in all of Scandinavia but is largely considered to stem from Denmark.
This was John Ford's last film in black and white.
John Ford had considered casting a young actor as Stoddard, but feared that would highlight the fact that John Wayne was too old to play Doniphon.
Gene Pitney's song "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" was not used over the opening credits, as it was felt to sound too modern for the film's late 19th century setting.
Some of the earlier scenes in the movie, particularly in the restaurant, were apparently styled by John Ford as a mocking tribute to the films of his friend and fellow director, Howard Hawks.
Doniphon and others use a wooden mallet as a gavel in the voting scene. This is a bung starter, used to knock the stopper (bung) out of barrels or casks.
During the territorial convention, three of the actors (John Wayne, Andy Devine and John Carradine) had performed together previously in Stagecoach (1939) under the helm of director John Ford.
At the beginning of the movie, in the scene in which Vera Miles comes near John Wayne's burned house, the music from John Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) is played.
The last time John Qualen plays a Scandinavian character alongside a John Wayne lead.
Final film of Stuart Holmes.
Final film of Buddy Roosevelt.
Final film of Blackie Whiteford.
Final film of Jack Perrin.

Director Trademark 

John Ford:  [cards]  Liberty Valance plays the Dead Man's Hand (Aces and Eights) before going out to duel Ransom Stoddard.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

With the last poker hand Valance plays before he is shot, he won with Aces and Eights - Wild Bill Hickok's "Dead Man's Hand".

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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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