The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

DVD - 2009
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"Director [John] Ford brings us to the lawless frontier village of Shinbone, a town plagued by a larger-than-life nemesis, Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). [James] Stewart plays the bungling but charming big-city lawyer determined to rid Shinbone of Valance, and he finds that he has an unlikely ally -- in the form of a rugged local rancher (John Wayne). The two men also share the same love interest (Vera Miles). But when the final showdown becomes inevitable, one of the two will attempt to get the gunman...but the other one will wind up getting the girl"--Container.

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d
Derringer
Feb 14, 2017

Released in 1962 - This enjoyable film teamed up 2 Western Greats (James Stewart and John Wayne) in what would turn out to be director John Ford's farewell to the Movie-Western.

Set in the year 1910 - Senator Rance Stoddard, and his wife, Hallie, return after many, long years to their old hometown of Shinbone, Texas, to attend the funeral of a dear, old friend, rancher Tom Doniphon.

In flashback format - Rance recounts to a local newspaper reporter the story of how, 25 years earlier, he had just begun his career in Shinbone as a young, idealistic lawyer. And, then, as circumstances quickly changed, how he became the man who shot Liberty Valance, one of the most vicious and ruthless gunslingers/outlaws that the Wild West has ever known.

With Director John Ford's unique visual sense and belief in sparse dialogue, along with an excellent ensemble of supporting actors, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a fairly satisfying Western/Drama in so many ways.

Special Movie-Trivia Note - The title song for this picture, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, which became a Top 10 Hit for pop-singer Gene Pitney, was never used in the film.

o
okbookgirl
Dec 16, 2016

Great story, great cast, great director -- a true classic Western.

a
abcedmillered
Jul 01, 2016

Lee Marvin plays an amazing villain. Awesome movie.

l
lizbeth51
Apr 10, 2016

A very good story! I enjoy all the great actors in this movie, including the minor characters. The old classics are much better than most of the new stuff.

lizbeth51

Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) and his wife Hallie (Vera Miles) arrive in the small town of Shinbone to attend the funeral of one Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). No one is sure why a successful senator, former governor, and possible vice-presidential candidate would want to attend the funeral of a man who died so poor that the undertaker will not "make a dime on this." Stoddard tells a reporter of his first arrival in Shinbone, many years before, as a young lawyer fresh out of law school, where he ran afoul of a vicious bandit, Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin).
Stoddard develops a friendship with Hallie, which remains platonic as it is generally accepted that she will marry Tom, the only man in the territory tougher than Liberty Valance.

Stoddard refuses to back down to Valance, but believes that killing is not the solution, and that law and society must prevail. The town marshal is a weak, ineffective man who leaps at reasons not to face down Valance, who would surely kill him. The editor of the town newspaper shows some courage by believing in the power of the press the way Stoddard believes in the power of the law.

Ultimately, however, Stoddard finds himself unable to do anything but pick up a gun and face Valance. He is shot, but kills Valance in a final exchange of gunfire. As Hallie binds his wound, we see her feelings for him clearly, and so does Tom Doniphon, who goes home in drunken despair. He sets fire to the addition to his home he had been building in anticipation of his marriage to Hallie. The flames spread to the rest of Doniphon's house and almost kill him; he is rescued by his ranch hand, Pompey (Woody Strode).

Stoddard is feted for killing Liberty Valance, and proposed as a delegate to Congress in a bid for statehood. At the territorial convention (in "Capital City," the capital of the territory; Ford was clearly working hard to make this story universal, and carefully avoided identifying which territory was the setting for the story), however, he finds out from Tom Doniphon that it was Doniphon who actually killed Valance with a rifle, firing at the same time as Stoddard and Valance. Doniphon says that he can handle having the cold-blooded murder on his conscience, and that Stoddard needs to go on and do the work that Doniphon could never do.

Ultimately, Ransom Stoddard goes on to great success, in no small part because of his reputation as "the man who shot Liberty Valance." Tom Doniphon dies penniless, never having so much as rebuilt his burned-out house. In a final indignity, the undertaker even tries to take the boots from his body, but is rebuked by Stoddard.

The story is a tragedy in many ways. Doniphon gets nothing at the end, even though he fired the critical shot. Pompey, who handed Doniphon the rifle to shoot Valance and saved him from the burning building, is left alone and destitute himself. The sheriff is shown at the end of his years, a lost man who has not held his identifying office for many years. Stoddard gets everything, but is haunted by the fact that he failed in his convictions against violence by taking a gun to face Valance, and that the deed for which he is famed is a lie. When he tries to set the record straight, the newspaper editor refuses, saying "This is the West, sir! When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

In the final scene on the train to Washington, when Stoddard thanks the conductor for his special assistance, the conductor replies "Nothing's too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance," and walks away. Stoddard, who is about to light his pipe, stops; he cannot escape his legend, and now even the simple pleasure of a pipe is tainted, as is the rest of his life, by a lie.

m
msemos
Dec 02, 2015

great cast wasted in this film that is too long and not very interesting.

a
akirakato
Jun 15, 2015

This is a 1962 American Western directed by John Ford, based on a short story written by Dorothy M. Johnson.
Although this one is considered one of Ford's best, everybody should be able to tell that Ransom Stoddard didn't kill Liberty Valance.
Nonetheless, it is a gripping, engaging and entertaining western.

a5a22406 May 05, 2015

One of my all -time favourite westerns. Keep an eye on the terrific character actors who complement the main stars. Top notch!

d
DickyMicky
Feb 28, 2015

Unfortunately, I found this big-budget, 1962 Western to be very disappointing. It didn't help matters much that I'm not a John Wayne fan. In this film Wayne looked thoroughly bored and tired, which is how he seemed to look in many of his later pictures.

In a nutshell, this film's story was all about who really shot down that lousy, stinking, bastard, Liberty Valance, the man who everyone loved to hate (and for some very good reasons, too).

I also think that it was a big mistake that director John Ford had this film shot in dreary black and white.

p
pokano
Feb 13, 2015

What a cast! Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Edmond O'Brien, Andy Devine, Lee Marvin, Vera Miles, John Carradine! John Ford makes good use of them in a movie that reminds you of the time when Westerns ruled the screen.

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m
Monolith
May 22, 2012

Tom Doniphon (to Ransom Stoddard): "Hey, Pilgrim - you're gonna need a coupla stitches... Pompey, go find Doc Willoughby. If he's sober, bring him back."

m
Monolith
May 22, 2012

Tom Doniphon: "Liberty Valance's the toughest man south of the Picketwire - next to me."

m
Monolith
May 22, 2012

Dutton Peabody (protesting his nomination to the statehood convention): "Good people of Shinbone... I, I'm your conscience, I'm the small voice that thunders in the night, I'm your watchdog who howls against the wolves, I, I'm your father confessor! I - I'm... what else am I?" Tom Doniphon: "Town drunk?"

m
Monolith
May 22, 2012

Floyd: "It's Liberty! He - he's hurt!" (Doc approaches Valance's body) Floyd: "It's Liberty." Doc Willoughby: "Whiskey, quick!" (someone hands him a bottle; he takes a drink, and turns Valance's body over with his foot) "Dead." (walks off)

m
Monolith
May 22, 2012

Ransom Stoddard: "You're not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?" Maxwell Scott: "No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

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