The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
January 31, 2023 9:14 AM - Subscribe

Questions arise when Senator Stoddard (James Stewart) attends the funeral of a local man named Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) in a small Western town. Flashing back, we learn Doniphon saved Stoddard, then a lawyer, when he was roughed up by a crew of outlaws terrorizing the town, led by Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). As the territory's safety hung in the balance, Doniphon and Stoddard, two of the only people standing up to him, proved to be very important, but different, foes to Valance.

Also starring Vera Miles, Edmond O'Brien, Andy Devine, Ken Murray, John Carradine, Jeanette Nolan, John Qualen, Willis Bouchey, Carleton Young, Woody Strode, Denver Pyle, Strother Martin, Lee Van Cleef.

Directed and co-produced by John Ford. Screenplay by James Warner Bellah, Willis Goldbeck. Based on the short story "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" by Dorothy M. Johnson.

94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Widely available for streaming in the US. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (9 comments total)
A bit elegiac in tone and slow in pace, but terrific. Obvious inspiration for the Harvey Dent plot in The Dark Knight.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:31 AM on January 31, 2023 [2 favorites]

I love this movie. Watched it with my dad and the last line made me audibly gasp, it’s just perfect.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:53 PM on January 31, 2023 [3 favorites]

Great movie. Haven’t watched in a number of years, but I have probably seen it a dozen times.
posted by jzb at 4:02 AM on February 1, 2023

My father's favorite film, and the love for this film and him are rolled in to one
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 4:30 AM on February 1, 2023 [3 favorites]

This is one of those cultural 'things' you're told to watch and like that turns out to far better than you expect. It's remarkably fractured and sophisticated for a Cowboy movie. It's a bit of a shocker, in that respect. It could have been made last week and we'd all be crowing about how great it is.

Strong, strong recommend.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:24 AM on February 2, 2023 [5 favorites]

I've never liked John Wayne much. Not because of politics or anything like that, his movies were just never my thing. This movie is the big exception.
posted by riruro at 11:34 AM on February 2, 2023 [3 favorites]

Riruro, that’s exactly what my dad said! He was a huge cowboy movie guy (born in 49 so it was basically required) and he always said John Wayne was too obsessed with his own image as a flawless hero. Hated his True Grit passionately. But this movie kinda goes out of its way to mess with that image and what it means.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:40 PM on February 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

I do tend to like John Wayne, but I'd still agree that his best movies, by far, are the ones that leverage the gravity of his image/iconography in an unexpected way to make us reconsider our mythology and heroes.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:23 AM on February 3, 2023 [1 favorite]

So great, just wonderful. Your can see Doniphan lose Hallie piece by piece then all at once. I love that Stoddard is worn down, shit, finally for him to actually turn to the gun, and yet even that decision is taken from him. You can definitely see the characters are older than younger though I guess is my only complaint. It's also fun in that it has a flashback in a flashback in a flashback.
posted by Carillon at 12:37 AM on December 26, 2023

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