Liberty Valance

October 01, 2004

The man who shot Liberty Valance
Paramount Pictures, 1962 ;
screenplay by James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck ;
produced by Willis Goldbeck ;
directed by John Ford.
Cast: John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Edmond O'Brien, Andy Devine, Ken Murray.

This is a classic western, one that pops up again and again on the cowboy channel, but one that I had never watched more than a few minutes of.

Just a couple of comments: I was struck by the melding of 1960s Cowboys with a reading of 1870s politics - there is an election held in a bar and a territorial convention featuring a band, a rodeo trick roper, and all sorts of shouting. I was struck by the nearly monochrome nature of the cast: all white, one black (Pompey) and no indians. This matches the 1960s view of the West, and it matches the mythic west created in part by John Ford in movies like this; it does not match the historic west. Edmond O'Brien does a wonderful job of chewing on the scenery as the drunken editor - I found myself admiring the Shatnerian quality of his performance.

I like the basic moral problem at the core of the movie, with Jimmie Stewart living a public life built around the fact that he was given credit for something that he had tried to do, but that someone else actually did for him, and we can see the pain in his heart every time he is praised for his action. And yet, when he thought he had done it, he refused to take political credit for it. Only after learning the truth does he take the public stage. As such the movie is a good moral study in truth and responsibility.

Good movie, glad I watched it.

Posted by Red Ted at October 1, 2004 10:23 AM | TrackBack
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