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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance(1962)

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  • liberty valance

    • kevin sellers
    • 11/12/14

    I like it as much as The Searchers. Lots of themes tackled here, such as loss, deception, and savagery versus civilization, but Ford never hits you over the head with them. It's a heavy film, in the sense that all the characters are burdened, but not heavy handed. (This is not easy to do, by the way. Just ask Stanley Kramer.) Mostly, it's a sad film. All the characters either want something they can't have (Like John Wayne's character, rancher Tom Doniphon, desiring Hallie, played by Vera Miles, but losing her to James Stewart's lawyer, Ransom Stoddard) or regret the way they have ended up (as is so heartbreakingly shown in the final scene on the train between Hallie and Stoddard.) All three of the leads are excellent. You expect that, of course, from Wayne and Stewart. The big surprise is Vera Miles, usually a bland actress, but not here. She runs the gamut from fiery to loving to mournful. It's one of the few fine performances from an actress in a Ford western. As for Lee Marvin, what can you say? No one does chaotic evil better than Lee Marvin. It's not a perfect film. Edmund O'Brien is over the top, and a Ford western not set in Monument Valley just feels wrong, somehow. But, taken all in all, this is a powerful movie that stays with you long after it's over. Give it an A minus.

  • Good Film

    • Judy
    • 4/25/14

    I really enjoy this film - Mr. Wayne reminds me so much of my late father and watching him in this film now brings me to tears. A big man in many ways and your eyes naturally are drawn to him when he is in a scene - quite amazing. I liked how they varied the story with the reality of what actually happened. And to have two great actors together in one film - a real treat; and Ms. Miles is great as the feisty Hallie. All in all a good film.

  • TMWSLV

    • Richard
    • 4/23/14

    I don't know much about early American weapons, either, but I do know something about the laws of physics, and what the poster below (Mr. Blandings) says about the way the man falls is correct. It's painfully obvious the scene was contrived to fool the audience into believing Stewart had killed him. If you want to call that "great cinematography" that's your own affair, I call it pretty cheap myself.

  • Over Rated?

    • Alexei
    • 4/22/14

    I know most reviewers love it and think it's a must-see but it has a kitchen-sink quality to it. There's lots and lots of talk. It feels like a 1950's TV drama.Wayne and Stewart are good but a bit too old for their roles.I think this movie is for Wayne fans mostly.

  • Classic Western

    • Tom
    • 4/21/14

    I don't know how the previous reviewer could call this movie boring--I've seen it many, many times and I've yet to become bored with it. John Wayne's best, as far as I'm concerned. The only thing I've ever been disappointed in is that Gene Pitney's song of the same name wasn't used in it. Would've been a great theme song ranking right up there with "Do Not Forsake Me" from High Noon, and "Theme from the Magnificent Seven".

  • Wordy & overwrought

    • r
    • 12/24/13

    Simply boring word fest over- acted by everyone. A cast that appears to be lampooning itself. NOT one of the best westerns ever by a long shot!

  • Shakespearean Tragedy

    • Dave
    • 11/8/13

    Tom Doniphon is a tragic hero of Shakespearean proportions. In the beginning, he is a man of high station, perfectly adapted for survival in a lawless culture of violence, respected by all, even his enemies. As with all tragic heroes, however, he has a tragic flaw, a characteristic one would not normally consider a flaw, which ultimately brings about his undoing and destruction. His flaw -- a sense of justice that won't allow him to let the strong to victimize the weak. He could have let Liberty Valance kill Ranse Stoddard, which in turn would have let him keep his girl. Instead, he commits murder to save Ranse, with the certain knowledge that he would also lose his girl. By his own hand, he destroys his own hopes and dreams. That which gave his life meaning is gone. In the end he is nobody, a dissipated life, a forgotten man. In the film's last scene, the pregnant silence between Ranse and Hallie speaks loudly. They both know that Tom made their successful lives possible, and they both know they were the instruments of his destruction. In the symbolic sense, Tom is the pioneer who forged the way for civilization (Ranse and Hallie), and in the process, created a world that made him unnecessary and irrelevant.

  • A True Classic

    • Dave
    • 11/8/13

    "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is a true classic that has already stood the test of time, and it will only get better as time goes on. I notice that posted reviews which pan the film seem to revolve around stylistic issues, i.e. personal preferences, rather than objective film and story values. Some seem to really stretch to find flaws. For example, one reviewer criticizes the scene in which Liberty Valance is shot by saying that Tom Doniphon uses a "shotgun(!)", which would produce a severely different wound than a pistol. Either that reviewer has no eye at all for detail or no knowledge at all of weapons of the time period, or he's just reaching to find flaws. The weapon Doniphon uses is lever-cocked, probably either a Winchester or a Henry rifle -- not a shotgun. And a shotgun would boom, not crack as that rifle did.The movie is beautifully written, acted, directed, and filmed, an allegorical morality play exploring forces of American history. This space does not permit lengthy critique, so I will comment briefly on one aspect, cinematography. If you know anything at all about photography -- lighting and angles and elements of composition -- and pay close attention rather than let images wash past largely unnoticed, then you know "Liberty Valance" is richly done with careful attention to detail, high art. Some of it borders on genius. The film is filled with powerful images of great depth, pictures that could be lifted out, framed, and hung on a museum wall as independent works of art, images that speak. Perhaps most notable is the scene just before Tom Doniphan shoots Liberty Valance. He steps into a sharply divided image of shadow and light, both in shadow and casting shadows, suggesting a mix of both good and evil, authentically garbed like a Russell or Remington figure, an expression of intense complexity on his face. It is a stunning image.

  • The Man who Shot Liberty Valance

    • Goetan
    • 5/20/13

    The dark and mature Western from director Ford. A politician takes credit for ridding his county of a bloodless outlaw. Stewart and Wayne, both too old for their parts, are effective and great, Marvin gives the nastiest performance of his career as Liberty. The behind-the-scenes look at civilizing the West is cynical, where one of the film's greatest lines sums-up the theme, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." A melancholy film that's a must-watch for fans of Ford and the Western genre. I give it a 5/5.

  • Great Western

    • Charlie
    • 1/30/12

    No matter what anybody says this was a great western. I thought the acting was superb,Lee Marvin was a great villan. I never tire watching this movie.

  • Flawed and illogical

    • Mr. Blandings
    • 8/20/11

    Not a fan of westerns in general but the presence of James Stewart made me think that this one would be different. Thankfully, Mr. Stewart did not succumb to the cartoonish, wooden acting style inherent in the genre. Too bad that can't be said of the staccato line deliveries of Wayne, who must have said "pilgrim" at least thirty times in this movie. But acting preferences aside, the film is flawed in its directing. For instance, the scene in which Stewart "shoots" Valance is handled anti-climactically. Yes, Stewart didn't really do the deed (as we later learn) but the audience doesn't know that yet so the scene should have been more dramatic. Worse still, when we see what actually happened, it is completely illogical. First, Wayne is standing out in the open for all to see. Second, Wayne uses a shotgun(!) when Stewart has a pistol, so the difference in wound severity should have been a give-away. Third, if Valance was shot with a shotgun and from Wayne's vantage point, then he should have been thrown through the window of the building at his right. But, no, he is still shown falling directly back from Stewart's line of fire, and then pitching forward to his left. So the whole question of "Who shot Liberty Valance?" - and the point of the film - is not clear. One only has Wayne's doubtful word and dubious flashback that said he did. Other action scenes - such as Wayne knocking the gun out of one of Valance's cronies - was choppy and poorly edited.

  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

    • Tom Nicholson
    • 8/13/11

    More like watching a stage play than a movie. Entertaining, but missleading. Territories do not have voting members in the U.S. Congress. Too much of Bully fighting Bully in words and actions. Anybody that observes that the tenderfoot lawyer shoots the fatal shot with his left hand can conclude that shot came from a different shooter. Did the lawyer do his target practice shooting with left hand? There is an excuse to see it again and pay attention.

  • The Most Important Movie of the 1960's

    • Robert
    • 8/13/11

    One of Ford's biographers said this about Liberty Valance, and he's right. This movie sets the stage for The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, the Wild Bunch, Midnight Cowboy and all the movies we think of from the 60s. Why? Because it absolutely challeges the American Myth that Ford created beginning in Stagecoach and now turns on its head. I have seen this movie a dozen times and it amazes me by its complexity, by the fundamental questions it asks about American culture and history and forces us to confront. It is simply amazing, perhaps the best film ever made by an old man.

  • When the legend becomes fact, print the legend

    • mike
    • 3/8/11

    John Ford's last great western, and it does not disappoint. Told mostly in flashback, the story centers around young lawyer Ransome Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) who is determined to bring law and order to an unamed western territory about to achieve statehood. Problem is, he has to deal with gunslinger Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) who will stop at nothing to terrorize everyone, except Tom Doniphon(John Wayne)who Valance is himself scared of. Doniphon, who becomes a guardian angel to Stoddard helps him get settled in the frontier town of Shinbone, but isn't afraid to tell Stoddard what he needs to know and what he is up against, and how to deal with it.The climatic final showdown between Stoddard and Valance is not to be missed, especially when you see how it really truns out. Has an excellent supporting cast including Andy Devine, Woody Strode, Vera Miles, Edmund O'Brien, among others.

  • The best movie of the 60s

    • Bob
    • 2/25/10

    This is simply the best and most important movie of the 1960s, remarkable for a decade that saw the graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, etc. Liberty valance should be paired with stagecoach: John ford created the myth of the american west and in liberty valance he destroyed it. It raises incredibly profound questions of identity, community, myth and reality, and of course the nature of truth. It has been my favorite movie for years.

  • One of the Greatest Westerns Ever Made.

    • Frank Harris Horn
    • 1/3/10

    Four-time Academy Award-winning director, John Ford brings two of Hollywood's legendary leading actors, John Wayne and James Stewart together for the first time in one motion picture featuring all-star cast including Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Edmond O'Brien, Andy Devine, Jeanette Nolan and John Qualen. Stewart plays a tenderfoot lawyer, who gets some encourage from the Duke himself as a local he-man, who prepares him for a showdown with a vicious gunslinger (Marvin). The movie was first panned by critics and moviegoers alike, but now it's regarded as a brilliant made Western classic. Also starring Ken Murray, Denver Pyle, Lee Van Cleef, Strother Martin, Woody Strode, Carleton G. Young, John Carradine, Robert F. Simon, Paul Birch, O.Z. Whitehead, Willis Bouchey, Joseph Hoover, Jacqueline Malouf & Anna Lee.

  • excellent movie

    • tom sicko
    • 1/1/10

    John Ford did a real good job in making this movie, the cast was great.

  • The Kitchen

    • Vicki
    • 12/12/09

    I love the scenes in the kitchen. The huge steaks, whole potatoes and pie. The board with the tally of the sheriff's free meals. The idea of what it took to earn a living in those times. A lawyer, cafe owner, newspaper publisher, farmer, sheriff, and the trouble maker.I really love this movie. It's a great story. One we need to continue to tell.

  • Best scene

    • HollyMartins
    • 12/11/09

    Remember Liberty's two flunkies? Lee Van Cleef & Strother Martin. Later to become celebrities in their own right.Love the fight scene over the Duke's steak.Love the line:Strother Martin: "I'll get that Liberty." Then Wayne kicks him in the face as Martin bends over to pick up the steak.

  • Not your typical Wayne western

    • Jarrod McDonald
    • 10/26/09

    This film seems like an unusual western. We have John Ford directing and John Wayne starring, but Wayne's character does not get the girl and dies. I guess they had to come up with different twists on the same story and this one hadn't been done by Ford and Wayne. I feel like Wayne is backgrounded too much and has less screen time than Stewart. And the school room scene dragged on too long without accomplishing much. But overall I think it is a great western. I love the scene where Wayne shows Stewart how to shoot paint cans. And I enjoyed the strong character actors who all have plenty to do. Andy Devine's marshal seems to be the most pathetic excuse for a lawman you'll ever find. He's more suited to sweeping up the saloon after a brawl.

  • I always weep

    • kathy
    • 10/10/08

    I always weep when I see this classic western. Just the thought of knowing g John Wayne "dies" (even off screen) is part of it. Others are the way the shallow female character shifts her attention from one male to the other must set a speed record. I'd never do such a thing. And the Duke's Tom is such a tragic figure. He kills Liberty in the duel and James Stewart's Rance takes all of the glory forever when he is credited for it. How could anyone do this? Is this honorable? I love John Wayne, always have. I like Jimmy Stewart, always have. This is oneof the best westerns ever and one of John's greatest performances. The final great John Ford western film.

  • Best in the West

    • Kenneth knox
    • 8/6/07

    I hold this movie dearly in my heart somewhere between Santa Claus and my first tricycle. This movie is great because it does not depend on one or two stars. All of the character interact together to make without a doubt the best western I have ever seen

  • Best western ever

    • Paul
    • 8/5/07

    This is John Wayne's best movie. He seems to be the star, then James Stewart's character develops and comes forefront - becoming a legend, getting the girl. Yet all the time, Wayne's character is there, like a dark guardian angel - mocking, brooding, trying to hide how much he cares.

  • Great Flick

    • Cory F Duffy
    • 7/26/07

    This movie should be in the "must see"catagory. There are so many classic linesin this movie,you would have to watch it100 times.(Which I probally have).

  • A Classic

    • Elleen
    • 2/18/07

    This is probaly one of my favorite westerns...except Once Upon A Time In The West. I love westerns. This is a geat movie with an all-star cast with great performances. There realy are alot of great stars in this movie and a great plot.I think this movie will always remain a classic. I could watch this movie over and over again. It has a great story line in it too. One of my favorites movies of all time.

  • Does it still exsist?

    • christina west
    • 2/13/07

    As a young girl in 1962, I remember the origial uncut version of this movie, but, has been drastically cut down to a much shorter version since then. Does that origial-uncut version still exsist?

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