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Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
     

Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

4.2 7
Director: John Ford, John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles

Cast: John Ford, John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles

 

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Like Pontius Pilate, director John Ford asks "What is truth?" in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance--but unlike Pilate, Ford waits for an answer. The film opens in 1910, with distinguished and influential U.S. senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) and his wife Hallie (Vera Miles) returning to the dusty little frontier town where

Overview

Like Pontius Pilate, director John Ford asks "What is truth?" in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance--but unlike Pilate, Ford waits for an answer. The film opens in 1910, with distinguished and influential U.S. senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) and his wife Hallie (Vera Miles) returning to the dusty little frontier town where they met and married twenty-five years earlier. They have come back to attend the funeral of impoverished "nobody" Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). When a reporter asks why, Stoddard relates a film-long flashback. He recalls how, as a greenhorn lawyer, he had run afoul of notorious gunman Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), who worked for a powerful cartel which had the territory in its clutches. Time and again, "pilgrim" Stoddard had his hide saved by the much-feared but essentially decent Doniphon. It wasn't that Doniphon was particularly fond of Stoddard; it was simply that Hallie was in love with Stoddard, and Doniphon was in love with Hallie and would do anything to assure her happiness, even if it meant giving her up to a greenhorn. When Liberty Valance challenged Stoddard to a showdown, everyone in town was certain that the greenhorn didn't stand a chance. Still, when the smoke cleared, Stoddard was still standing, and Liberty Valance lay dead. On the strength of his reputation as the man who shot Valance, Stoddard was railroaded into a political career, in the hope that he'd rid the territory of corruption. Stoddard balked at the notion of winning an election simply because he killed a man-until Doniphon, in strictest confidence, told Stoddard the truth: It was Doniphon, not Stoddard, who shot down Valance. Stoddard was about to reveal this to the world, but Doniphon told him not to. It was far more important in Doniphon's eyes that a decent, honest man like Stoddard become a major political figure; Stoddard represented the "new" civilized west, while Doniphon knew that he and the West he represented were already anachronisms. Thus Stoddard went on to a spectacular political career, bringing extensive reforms to the state, while Doniphon faded into the woodwork. His story finished, the aged Stoddard asks the reporter if he plans to print the truth. The reporter responds by tearing up his notes. "This is the West, sir, " the reporter explains quietly. "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." Dismissed as just another cowboy opus at the time of its release, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance has since taken its proper place as one of the great Western classics. It questions the role of myth in forging the legends of the West, while setting this theme in the elegiac atmosphere of the West itself, set off by the aging Stewart and Wayne.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
In his elegy to the Western hero, John Ford reveals the facts while printing the western legend. To examine what was at stake in transforming the western wilderness into a civilized garden, Ford sets up the opposition between James Stewart's Eastern lawyer Ranse Stoddard and Lee Marvin's brutal outlaw Liberty Valance, with John Wayne's archetypal hero Tom Doniphon forced to intervene. While Tom takes Stoddard's side in favor of the greater good, the spread of civilization comes at his own expense. Stoddard has to come to terms with the fact that the legendary words that fuel his success erase the truth of the genuine charismatic heroes; as a place of literary and cinematic legend, the West has no room for such veracity. Shot in black-and-white with few exteriors, Liberty Valance's melancholy nocturnal atmosphere matches the story's suggestion that the West's glory days have passed. Though not as highly regarded when it was released, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance has since come to be seen as one of Ford's greatest Westerns, and a key predecessor to such late '60s-'70s Western eulogies as The Wild Bunch (1969) and The Shootist (1976).

Product Details

Release Date:
05/19/2009
UPC:
0097361423449
Original Release:
1962
Rating:
NR
Source:
Paramount
Region Code:
1
Time:
2:03:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; Disc 1: Commentary by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, along with his archival recordings with John Ford and James Stewart; Selected scene commentary with intro by Dan Ford along with his archival recordings with John Ford, James Stewart and Lee Marvin; Disc 2: The Size of Legends, the Soul of Myth: 7-part featurette; Theatrical trailer; galleries: Lobby cards; Production; John Ford; Publicity

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Wayne Tom Doniphon
James Stewart Ransom Stoddard
Vera Miles Hallie Stoddard
Lee Marvin Liberty Valance
Edmond O'Brien Dutton Peabody
Andy Devine Link Appleyard
Ken Murray Doc Willoughby
John Carradine Maj. Cassius Starbuckle
Jeanette Nolan Nora Ericson
John Qualen Peter Ericson
Woody Strode Pompey
Denver Pyle Amos Carruthers
Strother Martin Floyd
Lee Van Cleef Reese
Robert Simon Handy Strong
O.Z. Whitehead Ben Carruthers
Paul Birch Mayor Winders
Joseph Hoover Hasbrouck
Gertrude Astor Actor
Helen Gibson Actor
Sam Harris Actor
William Henry Actor
Stuart Holmes Actor
Eva Novak Actor
Dorothy Phillips Actor
Buddy Roosevelt Actor
Slim Talbot Actor
Blackie Whiteford Actor
Edward Jaurequi Drummers
Carleton Young Maxwell Scott
Mario Arteaga Henchman
Larry Finley Bar X Man
Shug Fisher Drunk
Chuck Hayward Henchman
Earl Hodgins Clue Dumfries
Anna Lee Mrs. Prescott, widow in stage hold-up
Ted Mapes Highpockets
Montie Montana Politician on Horseback
Bob Morgan Roughrider
Charles Morton Drummer
Jack Pennick Barman
Chuck Roberson Henchman
Charles Seel President, election council
Ralph Volkie Townsman
Jack Williams Henchman
Willis B. Bouchey Jason Tully
Danny Borzage Townsman
Jack Kenny Actor
Robert Donner Actor

Technical Credits
John Ford Director,Producer
James Warner Bellah Screenwriter
William H. Clothier Cinematographer
Sam Comer Set Decoration/Design
Willis Goldbeck Producer,Screenwriter
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Eddie Imazu Production Designer
Otho Lovering Editor
Philip Mitchell Sound/Sound Designer
Cyril Mockridge Score Composer
Alfred Newman Score Composer
Hal Pereira Production Designer
Darrell Silvera Set Decoration/Design
Wingate Smith Asst. Director
Wally Westmore Makeup
Jack Williams Stunts

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
1. Chapter 1 [13:11]
2. Chapter 2 [5:04]
3. Chapter 3 [10:34]
4. Chapter 4 [8:20]
5. Chapter 5 [4:27]
6. Chapter 6 [8:17]
7. Chapter 7 [11:10]
8. Chapter 8 [5:44]
9. Chapter 9 [6:26]
10. Chapter 10 [4:57]
11. Chapter 11 [9:24]
12. Chapter 12 [8:35]
13. Chapter 13 [7:24]
14. Chapter 14 [11:54]
15. Chapter 15 [3:17]

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Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
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This is a must see movie. It defines democracy and it's struggle to survive when the going got tough. It makes you admire tough guys (on the outside AND on the inside) once again. Wayne, Stewart and Marvin are legends in the setting AND in real life. Makes me want to learn all about the Wild Wild West again. It's got great humor and sadness too. Loved seeing Lee Van Cleef. Great movie for all ages.