The story takes place in feudal Japan, when any commerce with the rest of the world was strictly prohibited. An idealist suddenly appears in an isolated inn (the one that the title refers ... See full summary »
A town Marshal, despite the disagreements of his newlywed bride and the townspeople around him, must face a gang of deadly killers alone at high noon when the gang leader, an outlaw he sent up years ago, arrives on the noon train.
The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
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
John Ford's Meditation On The Passing Of The Wild West
Based on a short story by Dorothy M. Johnson, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE tells the story of Ransom Stoddard, an eastern attorney who has the misfortune to be victimized by notorious outlaw Liberty Valance during a stagecoach robbery. Left for dead, Stoddard is rescued by rancher Tom Doniphon and brought to the small town of Shinbone. Disgusted by the lawlessness of the area, he determines to use not a gun but the law itself to end Valance's reign of terror.
Released in 1962, VALANCE was among the last films directed by John Ford, who was more closely associated with the Western than any other Hollywood director--and in one sense it certainly has the classic "good guy vs. bad guy" plot one expects from from a western classic. But Ford was not a superficial artist, and VALANCE is a remarkably multi-layered film that plays much deeper than you might expect.
Tom Doniphon is all that is right about the west; Liberty Valance is all that is wrong. But both are part and parcel of the same code, a society in which law and order are merely words on the lips of a cowardly marshal, a world where a man either dominates through fear or is dominated by it. It is a world that is coming to an end--and Rance Stoddard is in the vanguard of the new civilization. Both Doniphon and Liberty must fall before Stoddard if the worst of the west is to be tamed.
The cast is superior. James Stewart (Stoddard) and John Wayne (Doniphon) have unexpected chemistry on screen, and Lee Marvin (Valance) is easily one of the most unpleasant black-hats you could ever want to see in a western, vicious to the point of being psychotic. Supporting players Vera Miles, Andy Devine, Edmund O'Brien, and Woody Strode are equally fine. Although the script is occasionally a shade overwrought, it is laced with a very fine irony and sense of loss, and John Ford brings all the various pieces together without beating the viewer to death in the process.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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