Wednesday, October 17, 2012


There were many directors who could gorgeously and effortlessly capture the Old West (Hawks, Leone), but none could top John Ford. He could blend action and character study with complete ease. He was definitely one of a kind.

Want the best proof of his magic? Try Stagecoach, which many call one of the best titles of 1939. It's pretty easy to see why that is. Who else but Ford could mix Bert Glennon's cinematography and the work of the many actors with no problem whatsoever? No one, that's who.

Speaking of the actors, they're great. John Wayne is his usual badass self with a touch of heart thrown into the mix. And he's one of the many draws of Stagecoach. My personal favorite was Claire Trevor as a frowned-upon prostitute. I mean, you can't help but feel sorry for her.

Early in the film, Thomas Mitchell tells Trevor, "We're the victims of a foul disease called social prejudice." Amusingly, the portrayal of social outsiders is a common theme for Ford. (It also depicted quite wonderfully in The Grapes of Wrath.) Here in Stagecoach, those characters are very much the strongest ones in the bunch.

Stagecoach is another great title from Ford's extensive filmography. (And that's saying a lot because of all those films he made.) Every element just works wonders. I shouldn't be explaining every great thing about it. Go watch it yourself to witness a staple in cinema (and to understand why Orson Welles watched it 40 times before making Citizen Kane).

My Rating: *****

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