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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) Poster

Trivia

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. It is from the Danish company: Aalborg Aquavit and it is their top0selling brand called Red Aalborg (Aalborg being the home town of the company). Aquavit is made from potatoes and is closer to vodka than brandy. Aalborg Aquavit is probably the best known of all the Aquavit manufacturers and its products are sold all over the world. Mixing Aquavit with coffee is in Denmark known as a Coffee Punch. It has been consumed ever since coffee was introduced in Denmark in the 1660s. An old recipe says that to make a good Coffee Punch one should put a nickel in a cup. Fill the cup with coffee until the nickel cannot be seen anymore. Then top up with Aquavit until it is visible again. Judging from the amount which Nora pours into the cup in this scene it looks like this recipe is being used by her.
Jump to: Director Trademark (1) | Spoilers (2)
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 their 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.
O.Z. Whitehead, playing a teenager, was actually 50 years old.
John Wayne suggested Lee Marvin for the role of Valance after working with him in The Comancheros (1961).
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.
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."
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.
This was John Ford's last film in black and white.
Lee Marvin (Liberty Valance), Strother Martin (Floyd) and Lee Van Cleef (Reese) had previously appeared together in The Twilight Zone: The Grave (1961)), which aired 27 Oct 1961.
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.
Gene Pitney released the Burt Bacharach-Hal David "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", which peaked at US #4 in 1962. Though it has the same title as this picture, it was not used in the film because of a publishing dispute between Famous Music and Paramount Pictures, and because the song was considered too modern for the film's 19th century setting.
John Ford said he deliberately shot this film on soundstages in an effort to distance it from his Monument Valley epics.
Lee Marvin's first scene (the stage hold-up) presented problems for the actor--he couldn't seem to get a handle on his character. After several takes, John Ford instructed the stage driver not to throw down the cash box when Marvin demanded it. This had the effect of greatly notching up Marvin's anger, causing him to shout, "NOW!" The take was printed.
Woody Strode frequently performed his own stunts, partly because he was such a good athlete and partly because it was hard to find a black double to match his build and looks (this had also been the case on Spartacus (1960)). In the scene where Doniphon sets fire to his house, Strode had to race in and drag him out of the building. John Wayne was using a double but the 47-year-old Strode wasn't. John Ford told his star, "Duke, Woody is an old man, and he's got to carry you and he doesn't need a double!" Wayne decided to do the scene without one.
Edmond O'Brien said, "I have never seen John Ford happier than he was in making this; he came on the set positively beaming every morning, and that was not the usual thing with him." O'Brien also said everyone involved seemed to enjoy making the film.
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.
James Stewart related that midway through filming, John Wayne asked him why he never seemed to be the target of John Ford's venomous remarks. Other cast and crew also noticed Stewart's apparent immunity from Ford's abuse. Then, toward the end of filming, Ford asked Stewart what he thought of Woody Strode's costume for the film's beginning and end, when the actors were playing their parts 25 years older. Stewart replied, "It looks a bit Uncle Remussy to me." Ford responded, "What's wrong with Uncle Remus?" He called for the crew's attention and announced, "One of our players doesn't like Woody's costume. Now, I don't know if Mr. Stewart has a prejudice against Negroes, but I just wanted you all to know about it." Stewart said he "wanted to crawl into a mouse hole", but Wayne told him, "Well, welcome to the club. I'm glad you made it."
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.
John Ford once said that he preferred black-and-white and that it is actually more difficult than shooting in color. "In black and white, you've got to be very careful. You've got to know your job, lay your shadows in properly, get your perspective right, but in color, there it is," he said. "You might say I'm old-fashioned, but black and white is real photography."
While filming the stagecoach hold-up, James Stewart couldn't get a handle on it and kept flubbing his lines until John Ford walked over and repeated quietly in his ear, "You are not a coward, you are not a coward." That gave Stewart just the cue he needed to nail the take.
According to Woody Strode, John Wayne was so hurt by John Ford's abuse that he took it out on Strode. While filming an exterior shot on a horse-drawn cart, Wayne almost lost control of the horses and knocked Strode away when he attempted to help. When the horses did stop, Wayne tried to pick a fight with the younger and fitter Strode; Ford called out, "Don't hit him, Woody, we need him." Wayne later told Strode, "We gotta work together. We both gotta be professionals." Strode blamed Ford for nearly all the friction on the set. "What a miserable film to make," he added.
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.
John Ford was quite harsh on John Wayne during filming. Some have ascribed it to Ford's age and increasing impatience with filmmaking. Others say he resented Wayne because so few of the scenes Ford worked on without credit for Wayne's film The Alamo (1960) actually made it to the screen. One day when Wayne casually suggested a minor scene change, Ford lost his temper and screamed, "Jesus Christ, here I take you out of eight-day Westerns, I put you in big movies, and you give me a stupid suggestion like that!"
The one cast member who could get away with just about anything on the set was Lee Marvin. John Ford appreciated him not only for his acting and his World War II service as a Marine, but for Marvin's genuineness as a person. One day, Ford came on the set and Marvin whistled loudly through his teeth. The crew froze, certain there would be trouble. Instead Ford just smiled, because he recognized that what Marvin was doing was giving the admiral's whistle and piping the director "on board."
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.
On Lee Marvin's first day on the set, John Ford called him over and said, "You just did a movie with John Wayne [The Comancheros (1961)]. Wayne did some directing on that, right? Well, that's not happening here. Duke's not doing anything on this picture but what I tell him."
John Wayne said that this film was "a tough assignment" for him. While everyone else seemed to have well-rounded characters, he saw his role as merely functional for the plot. "I just had to wander around in that son of a bitch [Tom Doniphon] and try to make a part for myself." When someone suggested to Wayne that his role was a complicated one, full of ambiguity, he reportedly shot back, "Screw ambiguity. Perversion and corruption masquerade as ambiguity. I don't like ambiguity. I don't trust ambiguity."
During shooting, John Wayne was already suffering from lung cancer, although it was not diagnosed until 1964.
When he saw the set for the town of Shinbone, assistant director Wingate Smith remarked that it didn't looked lived in enough. John Ford replied, "If they don't like it, we'll give them their nickel back."
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The last time John Qualen plays a Scandinavian character alongside a John Wayne lead.
Ken Murray called John Ford an ogre and said he was scared of him.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Final film of Stuart Holmes.
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Final film of Buddy Roosevelt.
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Final film of Blackie Whiteford.
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According to Lee Van Cleef, John Wayne was cast at the insistence of the studio. John Ford resented the studio's intrusion, and retaliated by taunting Wayne relentlessly throughout the filming. Van Cleef said, "He didn't want Duke [Wayne] to think he was doing him any favor".
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John Ford only shot just what he needed with very little extra coverage on. He also preferred to do a minimum of takes, saying that after the first few, the actors get tired and jaded and their performances lack spontaneity. That's why he liked to work with the same people over and over again (the famed Ford "stock company"), because he could count on them to know what he wanted and give it to him on the first take.
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There are varying opinions about why the film was shot in black and white in the studio instead of location filming in colour. Some accounts have it that John Ford was forced to curtail his usual production methods because Paramount would not give him the financing he needed to shoot in one of his favourite locales, such as Monument Valley. Others, particularly critics and film analysts looking back to reclaim the film as one of Ford's major achievements, say the decision was entirely Ford's, a choice that zeroed in on a more intimate and intense character study. Most observers agree that black and white also helped ease the suspension of disbelief necessary to accept James Stewart and John Wayne as young men and Stewart in his make-up for the character late in life.
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Final film of Jack Perrin.
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According to Frank Baker, John Ford substantially improvised on the scenario from day to day.
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Selected by the Library Of Congress for the National Film Registry in 2007.
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John Ford argued that the final showdown between Stoddard and Valance wouldn't have worked in color.
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Final film of 'Snub' Pollard.
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The stagecoach which delivers Stoddard and Peabody to the political convention has a very faint legend on it which reads BUTTERFIELD STAGE LINES. It is very likely the same stagecoach used in 3:10 to Yuma (1957), loaned to Paramount by Columbia.
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At one point, hard-drinking newspaper editor Dutton Peabody refers to the bad guys as "Liberty Valance and his Myrmidons." The Myrmidons were figures of ancient Greek mythology, skilled warriors in Homer's Iliad commanded by Achilles. Because they were known for their fierce loyalty to their leader, the term came to be used in pre-industrial Europe almost as "robots" would be today. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term has since come to mean "hired ruffian" or "a loyal follower, especially one who executes orders without question, protest, or pity--unquestioning followers."
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Lee Marvin's widow Pamela said this was her "all-time favourite" of all the movies her husband made.
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Photographs exist of the entire cast seated around a table for what was a John Ford tradition: formal tea time on the set.
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According to John Ford's grandson, many people involved in the shooting remarked on Ford's lack of energy and complete disregard for details such as background effects. Lindsay Anderson, in his book-length study of the director, says, "No doubt this was yet another instance of Ford's growing impatience with the business of shooting: it was no longer 'fun.' He resented the demands of narrative, of crowd-pleasing spectacle, the trappings of 'art.' And in places the work suffered."
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In the classroom behind the Shinbone Star office, an American flag with 38 stars can be seen. Colorado became the 38th state in 1876.
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Although most sources say the film was shot almost entirely at Paramount Studios, with exteriors on the Janss Conejo Ranch in Thousand Oaks, California, a documentary about the making of it revealed that the town and train shots were done on Lot 3 at MGM.
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The script followed Dorothy M. Johnson's story and viewpoint fairly closely with one notable exception. On the page, Tom Doniphon was more of a mentor to Ranse Stoddard,, easing him along the road from frontier lawyer to state senator. In the film, except for two notable acts that change Stoddard's life forever, Doniphon isn't quite so proactive with an eye to Stoddard's future.
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This was Woody Strode's third film with John Ford after Sergeant Rutledge (1960) and Two Rode Together (1961). He always gave Ford credit for making him an actor and called him "the greatest director I ever worked for."
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This film is sometimes,erroneously, listed with other films John Wayne "dies" in. In fact he was actually dead before the movie began.
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Cyril J. Mockridge was hired to score the picture, but John Ford used a bit of music from Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) score under some of Vera Miles' scenes. Ford later told Peter Bogdanovich that he used Alfred Newman's "Ann Rutledge" theme for the same reason in both films, to evoke the feeling of lost love. He also told Bogdanovich that he made it apparent (through this music and other means) that Miles's character Hallie had never gotten over Tom Doniphon because he wanted John Wayne to be the lead rather than James Stewart.
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James Stewart genuinely liked John Ford and was eager to work with him again, especially since he was less than happy about the development of his unlikable character in Two Rode Together (1961), but would be playing an upstanding citizen and idealist in this film.
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John Ford also directed James Stewart and John Wayne in Alcoa Premiere: Flashing Spikes (1962). Stewart and Wayne appeared together again in Wayne's final film, The Shootist (1976), and were also both in the cast of How the West Was Won (1962) but in different segments.
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On Two Rode Together (1961), James Stewart wore the same hat in the film that he had worn in all his westerns with director Anthony Mann, prompting John Ford to remark, "Great, now I have actors with hat approval!". Ford refused to allow Stewart to wear any hat in this film, while John Wayne wore the most flamboyant wide-brimmed ten-gallon hat that he'd worn in film since the 1930s.
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It was widely pointed out at the time that it would have been quite obvious Valance had been killed by a bullet fired from a rifle.
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Denver Pyle played O.Z. Whitehead's father, despite being nine years younger than him.
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Sergio Leone, said that this was his favourite John Ford film because "it was the only film where he (Ford) learned about something called pessimism."
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John Wayne was still on location for The Comancheros (1961) in early summer 1961 when he began getting memos about their upcoming project from John Ford, who was eager to have his star back by summer's end to begin shooting. "For a change, no locations," Ford wrote on July 7. "All to be shot on the lot. ... Seriously we have a great script in my humble opinion."
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In the cast as an uncredited townsman was Danny Borzage, brother of director Frank Borzage and something of a Ford mascot. Borzage had been playing bits in John Ford's films since The Iron Horse (1924) and was always on set to play mood music on his accordion for the cast and crew between scenes and sometimes during them.
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In 1967, John Ford was quoted as saying that the film was based on historic facts, although he never said, and evidence never revealed, what that facts might have been.
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Although it was never used in the score, a popular pop ballad was inspired by the movie. It was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David but not recorded until after the picture came out. It became a Top 10 hit for Gene Pitney. The tune was later recorded by Jimmie Rodgers, James Taylor, and the Royal Guardsmen.
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This was the second John Ford movie each for Vera Miles (The Searchers (1956)) and Jeanette Nolan (Two Rode Together (1961)).
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This was Andy Devine's third picture with John Ford after Stagecoach (1939) and Two Rode Together (1961).
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Print the Legend, a phrase taken from the movie's famous quote, is the title of a crime novel by Craig McDonald about the death of Ernest Hemingway, a study of photography in the American West, and, of course, a book about John Ford by Scott Eyman. The phrase is often invoked in any writing or discussion about a person or event whose fame has surpassed the base realities.
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Director Trademark 

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

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

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. The line is appropriate as well pertaining to Doniphon actually being revealed as the man who shot Liberty Valance.
Tom Donophan does die in this film, although it is off camera and not in a gunfight or anything of the like. As such, this film is often erroneously omitted from lists of "films where John Wayne dies."
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