Monday, December 2, 2013

Movie of the Week – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

This week’s movie: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

Senator Ransom Stoddard returns to the small town of Shinbone where he got his start as a lawyer to attend the funeral of friend Tom Doniphon. Stoddard built his career on his legend as the man who shot vicious local ruffian Liberty Valance, but now back in town he feels the need to finally tell the truth about what really happened – to put the legend to bed.

Auteur John Ford is known as the master of the classic western with such films as Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and The Searchers all starring John Wayne (in addition to his other classics: The Grapes of Wrath, How Green Was My Valley, and The Quiet Man). It is only fitting that Ford would be the one to usher in the end of the classic western with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a film that looks back on the legend and myth of the old west only to see its heroes out-of-date. He worked with composer Cyril Mockridge, cinematographer William Clothier, and art directors Eddie Imazu and Hal Pereira.

In addition to John Wayne, the film stars James Stewart (who made many westerns too – but this is his best). Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Edmond O’Brien, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Woody Strode, and Lee Van Cleef feature in support.

I have always loved westerns, and cinema has so many great classics in the genre. But, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance marked the end of the genre, giving birth to a new modernized vision of the west, pulling down the legends. It is, however, one of my favorite westerns none the less, and among the best films of the 20th century. It is a must-see of fans of the genre.

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

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