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- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
- Runtime:123 min
- Release Date:2014-11-01 17:31:13
- Director: John Ford
- Genres: Drama, Romance, Western
MOVIE REVIEW:The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The Duke made a few westerns that were filmed to a great extent on
manufactured sets inside a studio, just like the TV westerns. The
writing of these studio-westerns had to be difficult—there was no
real reliance on the natural beauty and space that filled "The
Searchers" and "How The West Was Won". A studio western was a stage
play in spurs and gun belts. "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence" was one
of the very best of this genre.
And why not?—director John Ford was the Spielberg-Cameron-Scott of
his day, and knew a thing or 2 about directing actors. And WHAT
actors…Duke, Jimmy Stewart, Vera Miles and Lee Marvin…..that is
still a working A-Team, tho they have passed into history. Woody Strode
and Cameron Mitchell were the icing on the cake for me–Woody being one
of the finest and most spectacular character actors in film history.
This studio western had the unique and undeniable effect of an
epic—the passage of time and tide so well written and played. John
Wayne looked like a man destroyed by love at the end of that movie, and
he will, like other great male actors such as Brad Pitt, Kevin Kostner
and Kurt Ressell, always be under-appreciated and underrecognized
mainly because acting is so seemingly effortless to them, and the
mostly gay entertainment press ignore them because they ignore the
mostly gay entertainment press.
Vera Miles was perfect as a beauty who could make one man's life, and
with complete innocence, ruin another's. John Ford had a great eye for
the truly beautiful women in Hollywood, Miles and Maureen O'Hara
setting the bar very high for that all-important camera-eats-them-up
I'm still kind of struck by the casting of decorated WWII B-24 bomber
pilot Jimmy Stewart being cast as the egghead who didn't know which end
of a gun to hold, and the Duke, who was never in the military, as the
crusty old gun-fighter…the only man capable of terminating Libery
Valence–the only man Liberty was afraid of…..but…that's the
movies. Reality is willfully and lovingly suspended when the lights go
out and the projector cranks up.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one of the finest westerns I have
ever seen. It is more than the traditional western. Much more than any
traditional kind of film. Directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne
and James Stewart(one of my favorite actors) The Man Who Shot Liberty
Valance is one of the best Westerns ever made.
It endured a troubled production. Ford was such a stern director that
he ridiculed Wayne and Stewart so they would deliver an efficient
performance. Wayne would fight with Stroud because of this. But you
cannot see this internal turmoil anywhere in the film.
The film starts with a retired senator returning to his old town for a
friends funeral and he begins recounting the tale of his adventures to
a journalist. From there we are shown his early life and how he set out
for a adventure as a idealist law graduate looking for adventure in the
Liberty Valance is the archetypal bad guy. He kills ruthlessly and
there is no remorse in any thing that he does. He isn't arrested
because of the coward marshall.
Unlike most westerns the film isn't about anti – heroes and lone
warriors. It is about a town and its colourful characters. It is about
their struggles. Their attempts to find beauty in the world and try to
make sense of it as best as they can. There is no room for law & order
The film tries to talk about the need for all these things. You cannot
go all guns blazing all the time. Like Batman you have to know where to
draw the line between your enemies and yourself.
An underlying feel throughout the film is about roots. How you cannot
really leave the place where you are born. I love this quote by Abbas
Kiarostami that talks about this. He says that he doesn't leave Iran
because he would feel like a tree that has been shifted to a new
location and suddenly the fruit wouldn't be good anymore
There are moments of tremendous beauty and poignancy in the film. Like
the cactus flowers. And the ending is one of the best I have ever seen.
It was visceral. Sergio Leone calls this his favourite John Ford film
because he says that Ford had finally learnt a word called pessimism.
While I wouldn't call this film pessimistic. I would say this is his
most true to life picture. Because it is the most chaotic, yet there is
an answer in this chaos. There is beauty in it.
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