Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

With Westerns, there's always that certain theme running throughout. Most of the time, the theme involves the main character(s) and their morals.

Such is the case with John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. When Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) first arrives in the town of Shinbone, he's shocked at the lack of backbone against violent bandit Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). Stoddard is fresh out of law school, so he's looking to have Valance thrown in jail.

The only person in Shinbone that's both for and against Stoddard's ideas is Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). He agrees that Valance needs to be put behind bars, but claims (as with the rest of Shinbone) that Valance is impossible to capture without a fight. Like that's going to stop Stoddard.

It's interesting with Stewart and Wayne cast alongside each other. For someone who has seen enough movies with each of them, they both have a different way of creating an understanding between them and others. With Stewart, he'll use talking and logic as a way to understand the heart of the matter. Is it the same with Wayne? Hell no. With him, it's either agree with him or get slugged.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance shows how one's morals can either stay put or shift, especially when the going gets rough. Ford has done such a theme before, particularly in The Grapes of Wrath. Here, he has mastered the theme.

My Rating: *****

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