Monday, September 16, 2013

Movie of the Week – Stagecoach

This week’s movie is: Stagecoach (1939).

Nine strangers take what begins as a typical stagecoach journey through Arizona on the way to New Mexico only to find themselves in danger when Geronimo goes on the warpath. The nine people become band together to survive the threat, learning secrets about each other.

The film is one of director John Ford’s masterpiece westerns starring John Wayne (along with The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance). Though Ford won four Best Director Oscars during his career, he never won for one of his westerns (for which he is best remembered). Stagecoach was also the only western in which he received a Best Director nomination. Ford worked with composer Gerard Carbonara, cinematographer Bert Glennon, and art director Alexander Toluboff on the film.

The ensemble cast features Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell (who won an Oscar for his work in the film), Louise Platt, George Bancroft, Donald Meek, and Berton Churchill in addition to John Wayne.

What sets Stagecoach apart from other westerns is that it is not just a typical cowboys and Indians or white hats and black hats genre piece, though there is a bit of that in there too. Rather, it develops its characters, digging into social issues like social prejudices, alcoholism, and greed. This film was also highly regarded by auteur Orson Welles, who studied it intensely before and during the making of his first feature Citizen Kane. It is a must-see for fans of Ford and Wayne, and those looking to see the best westerns in cinematic history. Stagecoach was nominated for Best Picture, but lost to Gone with the Wind.

Trailer: Here
Available on: DVD and Video-On-Demand

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