One of the most beloved Westerns ever made. This is due to many reasons – story, cast, direction, etc. Released originally in 1962 this is a crisp (best it has ever looked due to the 4K treatment) black and white film featuring big time performances by a cast laden with stars like John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin, and John Carradine.
If you are not familiar with the Western film genre then this is an excellent place to start. You cannot go wrong with a John Ford helmed film. A prolific and respected director, over his fifty year career, John Ford directed more than 140 films and won an amazing 4 Best Director Oscars. He had previously directed films like The Quiet Man, Stagecoach and The Grapes of Wrath. This was one of his last films as he died in 1973 of cancer. John Ford built his career upon the making of Westerns. Many of them are considered today as classics.
Initially, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was not an appreciated film. Might have been thought too heady or attempting to take on too many issues for a Western. Nevertheless, do not sleep on this one. Do not dismiss it as simply a Western or not to be enjoyed as it is a gritty old black and white film. That would be a mistake.
After hearing of the death of his old friend, Senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart – Vertigo, It’s a Wonderful Life), along with his wife Hailee (Vera Miles – Psycho, Into the Night), travel to his boyhood town of Shinbone to attend the funeral of Tom Doniphon (John Wayne – True Grit, The Green Berets). While there he tells his and Tom’s story to the local newspaper editor.
Though the cast is rather impressive; they are all a little long in the tooth, but Ford knew how to shoot them in a kind way so it did not negatively affect the film. This would be just a minor detail, anyways, as the leads are all so talented and right in the roles.
Though John Ford had made many a Western before this, it could be argued that this was one of, if not his best. A rather soft or nostalgic look at the genre, there is plenty of power in the story and the performances. The simplicity in which Ford brings the story to screen really adds to its already present power. A bittersweet element of a nod to the end of the Old West for the beginning of modern times brings about several lump in throat moments.
The story is jam packed with moral debates or lessons. There is often plenty going on under the surface. A theme of being in the right place at the right time runs throughout The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Also, how often progress exacts a price. Finally, how truth and reality don’t always meet. Plenty to chew on, this is not simply a revenge, heroic or gun-toting Western. Rather it is a thinking and feeling person’s.
- NEW Filmmaker Focus – Leonard Maltin on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
- Feature commentary by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, along with his archival recordings with John Ford and James Stewart
- Selected scene commentary with introduction by Dan Ford, along with his archival recordings with John Ford, James Stewart and Lee Marvin
- The Size Of Legends, The Soul Of Myth
- Chapter 1: Changing Of The Guard
- Chapter 2: The Irascible Poet
- Chapter 3: The Hero Doesn’t Win, The Winner Isn’t Heroic
- Chapter 4: Most Things Happen By Accident
- Chapter 5: The Great Protector
- Chapter 6: Spotlight – Lee Marvin
- Chapter 7: Print The Legend
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments