Saturday, February 12, 2011

#305: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Directed by: JOHN FORD
1962, TSPDT Rank #72

One of the films from the late period of Ford's career, this was arguably the first film to start forming the revisionist western genre that would come to power over the old-style westerns in the next decade or so. It takes an elegiac and mournful look at the Old West, which had began to fade right in front of these characters' eyes. This being said, it's a really captivating film, it's never depressing or boring. Starring two film giants, John Wayne and James Stewart, the film looks at traditional genre character stereotypes in more modern, realistic terms: the tough hero (Wayne), the bookish tenderfoot (Stewart), the beautiful woman both long for (Vera Miles), and the bad man (Lee Marvin), who here is very bad indeed. The plot doesn't really need to be explained for anyone who's seen a western film, although there are some surprising twists contained, and it's told from just a little bit different perspective. The long shots flow beautifully across, while the short ones jump on and off the screen with perfect rhythm and grace. Ford clearly knew what he was doing, and knew how to tell a story. This one is no exception, and the more modern style and great acting has made it a cherished classic. Indubitably worth checking out.

(Rating: 8/10)

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