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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - 1962

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - Released April 22, 1962. Directed by John Ford

John Ford put a lot of thought into The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but the box-office return was considered down for a "Ford Western," and this film is usually credited as being the movie which made Jimmy Stewart shift his career from 'young man trying to achieve the American dream' roles into middle-aged characters actually more in line with his true age (he was 54 when the film was made).

Ford (and the script by James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck, from a story by Dorothy M. Johnson) deals directly with Western cowboy story mythology, and plays at least two ways: a lament for the men who tamed the American west (played by John Wayne's character Tom Doniphon) and the men who reaped the benefits (Stewart's character of Ransom Stoddard). Ford doesn't exactly spell out what created such a schism between the results for two different kinds of men, but he shows an American journalist saying something which certainly gives a hint at what Ford wants to be understood: "This is the West, sir... when the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Original page June 2016

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