Tonight’s viewing was the first of many Westerns to be watched on the list….
#11 / 365 – ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ (1962) (PG) – 118 mins
IMDB Challenge #8 – Ranked #246 – Via DVD Collection
When a local reporter presses Senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) for an interview about why he has come to the funeral of a nobody like Tom Doniphon (John Wayne), Stoddard begins the story (in flashback) of when he first rode into in the town of Shinbone to be greeted by a tough local outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) who munches the words “I’ll show you law….Western law!” to Stoddard, before exacting a brutal beating. Stoddard then in the coming weeks, whilst all the time trying to educate the townsfolk with his lawyer ways soon realises he has to learn the way of the West.
‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ was probably the first western I watched many years ago and sticks fondly in the memory as it was the one that introduced me to John Ford who to me was undeniably a master of the Western genre, who directed a staggering 146 pictures in his career.
The acting of James Stewart (a personal favourite of mine) is simplicity in itself along with it’s honest, unpretentious story and straight to the point dialogue. There are some classic face-off moments between Wayne and the evil Marvin.
With all the positives though comes a negative, which is that the story becomes lost and overplayed in the last act. ‘The Man who Shot Liberty Valance’ wasn’t the strongest film Ford made as these were to be had earlier in his career, with the likes of ‘Stagecoach’ and ‘The Searchers’ but this was to be his last big one.