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
Tom declines being nominated as a delegate because he has other plans, yet he comes to the convention. He didn't have any other plans during the convention, he just had other plans for his future (he most likely wanted no more than to marry Hallie and live a quiet life). See more »
[descending from railway carriage and consulting pocket watch]
Thanks, Jason. On time.
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A Hot Time in the Old Town
Music by Theodore A. Metz
Played in the saloon and often in the score See more »
Man of words vs. Man of actions
IMDb Top 250: 238
I came to a realization about John Ford watching this film. He's a legendary director who can create interesting plots, fill them with meaning and themes, provoke strong performances from his cast, and keep a viewer interested for 2 hours. But between this and The Searchers, I felt something missing. This film is shot in a very conventional manner, so visually it didn't stand out. And there was just a lack of... heart. The minimal soundtrack played a role in that matter. So to conclude, this is a well-made movie with strong features, that played it safe and didn't take many risks.
There's very little to spoil in this movie: you know how it ends from the title. There's only really one plot point worth hiding. But knowing that puts me in a different state of movie-watching mind: the point of the film is not what happens, but why and how. The great beginning, set much after the bulk of the film, cemented that idea. We know the fate of all the characters. But how did they get there?
This brings me to the strongest point: the dynamic between Ransom and Doniphon, played by the legendary James Stewart and John Wayne, respectively. Ransom is the man of words, a lawyer who wants to solve his problems diplomatically. Doniphon is the man of action, who realizes the importance of guns and confidence in the West. Between them is Hallie, and a sort of triangle develops. It's interesting to see how that love plays out, especially when the other tug-of-war, Ransom's struggle to maintain his principles also unfolds.
As I've said, the cast is excellent. The two leads are excellent, in a cool conflict with each other. Vera Miles is, as Wayne says, "kinda cute when she's angry", and has some good scenes. Mr. Peabody and the Marshall are excellent characters fully realized to their comic, and dramatic, potential. But the acting star is Lee Marvin, in the role of the titular Valence. He's a bad, bad man and supremely played.
I like to review Ford's films, as the meaning he puts into them make great analysis and reviews. If you like westerns, you probably love him, and if you don't know him you need to see his films. They could just be that much better if he would take a risk. 8.1/10
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