The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

John Ford directs John Wayne, James Stewart and Lee Marvin in this western drama where a big time politician returns to the town where he first made his name as a law loving tenderfoot and remembers the violent men who would change the course of his life.

In terms of storytelling and cinematic craftsmanship absolutely flawless. The schoolhouse scene where the illiterate and under civilised discuss the Constitution with Stewart’s paternal authoritarian giving no slither of room for open interpretation is a powerhouse. That must have been electric to watch during the zenith of the Civil Rights movement. There are three fantastic movie star performances within – Wayne (never more masculine), Stewart (the future and all that is decent and depressing about that future) and Marvin (just a wild bastard man of a villain.) Woody Strode is cool as fuck too. The last days of the Wild West remembered and, while this is told in the mode of the traditional classic western, one can see the revisionist roots of The Wild Bunch, Heaven’s Gate and Deadwood flourishing within its fertile perfection.


Perfect Double Bill: Winchester ‘73 (1950)

My wife and I do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here


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