Seminal Image #531

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
(John Ford; 1962)


Vanwall said...

To be honest, I can't enjoy this movie - it's way too stylised in a direction I find unwatchable, like an overly cliche' Warner Brothers TV western. Everyone in it seems to have done way better work elsewhere that they appear to parody for this film. I saw it as a boy in its first run, and wasn't impressed even then - didn't like Duke all that much. There's only a few Wayne films I watch, to this day.

slyboots2 said...

Oh- I loved this movie! It's about the only later Jimmy Stewart Western that I can really feel fondness for.

swac said...

What, you've got a problem with The Cheyenne Social Club?


convict 13 said...

I like this movie a great deal, great performances from all, and yeh it is a little over art directed, but I think all the cast are in top form.

Anonymous said...

[spoiler] It was John Wayne, not Jimmy Stewart who shot Liberty Valance. [/spoiler]

Tom Sutpen said...


I know what you mean about the look of the thing. But I honestly believe it's Ford's least problematic late masterpiece (I have a tremendous regard for Two Rode Together and 7 Women), and its relatively stage-bound visuals have never bothered me.

It's admittedly speculative, but I believe there was something in Ford that sensed this was the last Western of this character he would ever make (which indeed it was . . . Cheyenne Autumn is a semi-failed epic; even if it succeeded it would have been a very different film from Liberty Valance); and whatever sense of melancholy this realization produced in him is, I think, totally absorbed into the texture of the film itself. I don't think there's any other way to account for its openly elegiac tone. God knows there's nothing in the script, shorn of everything else, to suggest this autumnal sadness.

We gotta agree to disagree on this'un.

Vanwall said...

It wasn't just the visuals, Tom, which were the least of its weaknesses - it has an interesting look on occasion - but I'm not too keen on the script; the lines had an almost forced quality, not in line with Johnson's written style from which it was adapted - better films could have been made from her work, sadly.

Growing up in the almost enforced Western heritage of Arizona, I was in serious overload of conventional cowboysninjuns by the time I was in grade school, (and remember, the Western ruled on TV, too!) so this particular film was not to my tastes; but also due to the over-appreciation of the cowhand in that town, it meant I was lucky enough to run across some of the better pulp, and slick, Western writers, like Ernest Haycox or Johnson early enough to make a difference in my feelings for a "True West".

I wish Ford had done the adaptation of Haycox's brilliant and realistic "Trouble Shooter" instead of DeMille, who bowdlerized it (admittedly due to its time of release) into "Union Pacific", a good conventional studio product. Haycox's "Stage to Lordsburg" transmogrified into "Stagecoach" was so much better, mostly because it's direction and look was in Ford's hands, and I can only wonder how much better it surely would've been if Ford had done "Union Pacific" as well. There were many other crack westerns both written and filmed, particularly with Jimmy Stewart, that had come before TMWSLV, that this film comes off for me as blah compared to them. I agree, let's disagree. ;-)


la peregrina said...

Re: Photo
Uh Oh, Lee Marvin must be in town.

I do like this movie but I also think James Stewart belongs in it about as much as he belongs in The Spirit of St. Louis. He was just too old for both parts.