Today! Because courage can be purchased at yon’ tavern –
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Directed by John Ford (x2)
Starring James Stewart (x2), John Wayne (x2), Lee Marvin, Vera Miles, Edmond O’Brien (x2), Andy Devine, Ken Murray, Woody Strode, John Carradine (x3), John Qualen, Jeanette Nolan, Lee Van Cleef, Strother Martin (x2), Denver Pyle, Carleton Young, Paul Birch, Joseph Hoover
In concocting this list, I realized that many of the movies I considered my favorites came to me because they were clearly the favorite of someone around me first. Hell, my little sister watched Strictly Ballroom so many times that I’ve committed lots of its dialogue to memory, and it nearly fought its way on here (Strictly Ballroom is great, by the way). My older sister had a poster for Moonstruck hanging up in their room for years, and it had all the glitz and glow of an Oscar winner, even for eight-year-old Joe, that even now I’m like “Yeah! Moonstruck! That movie’s great!” even though I have no recollection of what that movie is about. Does Nicolas Cage only have one hand in it? Is that right?
But the handful of John Wayne movies on this list I can attribute directly to my old man. Many of them blend together into one Indian massacre of a film that I can’t precisely distinguish, but a few others stand out pretty well. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is at the top of this western list. John Wayne is John Wayne as always (here, one Tom Doniphon), and Jimmy Stewart is the tenderfoot bookworm come to town, just as elections and the east are infiltrating old west life. The movie starts at the end, with Stewart’s Ransom Stoddard returning to Shinbone (the town is named Shinbone!) for a funeral, then jumps back to his initial arrival – and all the drama connected to Lee Marvin’s odious Liberty Valance. Along for the ride are a wonderful bunch of great comic turns – an odd staple of the best John Ford films – including Andy Devine’s hilarious Link Appleyard and Edmond O’Brien’s drunken, raging publisher Dutton Peabody. Continue reading