117 of 121 people found the following review helpful
I've just viewed the latest Criterion edition of Stagecoach and compared it side by side with the WB 2 disc set. The picture is improved.... not perfect ...but much better. I prefer the commentary by Scott Eyman on the WB edition. The second disc on the WB set has the spectacular American Masters Documentary and a wonderful featurette. The new Blu-Ray and DVD sets by Criterion also have a wealth of bonus features topped by an hour interview with Ford himself! If you are a fan I'd keep the older edition for the bonus features and Eymans commentary and feel good about adding the new edition for better picture and non-repeated bonus features. The featurette on the stunt man Yakima Canutt is excellent, Bogdonovich is always interesting...Ford home movies fun.....it's a solid Criterion package!
67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2010
This special edition is jam-packed with goodies for fans of the film and of the western genre, starting off with an audio commentary on the first disc by film historian and western scholar Jim Kitses. He challenges the conventional view that Stagecoach lacks the depth and command of craft of John Ford's later films. Kitses does a fantastic job of explaining how Ford's camerawork and the use of invisible editing set up differences in class and established genre conventions. When not offering expert analysis, he provides biographical information on various cast members in this eloquent and informative track.
Also included on this disc is a trailer.
Disc two starts off with "Bucking Broadway," a 54-minute silent film from 1917 that stars John Ford favorite Harry Carey as a cowboy whose true love is taken away by a big city type. It features many of the themes and conventions that Ford would explore again and again in later films.
There is a 1968 interview with Ford by British journalist and television presenter Philip Jenkinson. Running over an hour, the filmmaker talks about his childhood, how he got his start as a director, working with John Wayne, and, of course, Stagecoach. Ford comes across as a no-nonsense man and plain-spoken, refusing to romanticize his past despite the interviewer's best attempts.
Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich offers his thoughts on Stagecoach and praises the strong script and solid ensemble cast. He analyzes Wayne's performance and how he reacts to the things that happen around him. Bogdanovich also offers his impressions of Ford and Wayne, having met both of them.
"Dreaming of Jeanie" is a video essay that examines Ford's visual style in Stagecoach. It analyzes several of the film's themes through clips and illustrates how Ford used camera movement, framing and background details to show the traits of the various characters.
"John Ford Home Movies" is an interview with the director's grandson and biographer Dan Ford. He talks about his grandfather's home movies that show the man at his most relaxed, complete with clips from the actual films. We see the likes of John Wayne and Henry Fonda lounging around with Ford on his boat.
"True West" is an unexpected treat featuring author Buzz Bissinger talking about the 1920s trading post operator Harry Goulding and his role in telling filmmakers like Ford about Monument Valley. The land belonged to the Navajos but he staked out a claim thanks to his friendship with them. Bissinger talks about how Goulding met Ford and persuaded him to make Stagecoach in Monument Valley.
Another outstanding extra is a featurette about legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt who performed many of the amazing stunts in the film. He went on to become an important figure in the stuntman industry. Fellow industry legend Vic Armstrong offers his thoughts and impressions of the man and talks about just how groundbreaking Canutt was back in the day.
Finally, there is "Screen Director's Playhouse," a radio adaptation of Stagecoach that aired on January 9, 1949 and starred John Wayne and Claire Trevor, reprising their film roles.
As a nice bonus, the accompanying booklet includes the original short story that provided the basis for the film itself!
63 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2005
Let's see - take a whiskey drummer, add a boozy doctor (served in the Union Army,) a snaky gambler (Confederate vet played by John Carradine,) a good girl (haughty young wife of a horse soldier posted out west with the 6th Cavalry,) and an obnoxious and imperious businessman with a secret to hide. Add one bad girl (Claire Trevor) driven our of town with the drunken doc by the town's respectable marm hens, and one cuffed outlaw, the Ringo Kid (John Wayne.) Shake vigorously in a stagecoach plunging violently through hostile Apache territory.
Made in 1939, the Year of the Motion Picture, John Ford's STAGECOACH is pretty much everything you want or need in a western. Nominated for a slew of Academy Awards, it took one home when Thomas Mitchell won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as the shrewd, whiskey-loving physician. In 1995 it was placed on the National Film Registry by the National Film Preservation Board.
Well, this is the first film Ford shot in Monument Valley, and it looks great. It's also one of the first big-movie breaks for Wayne. Check out the first Wayne shot - the camera eagerly rushes up to him and holds him in a wide-eyed close-up for a couple of seconds. An entrance worthy of an icon, even if Ford was a couple of decades premature. And the always reliable, underrated Claire Trevor looks great as... well, I'm not quite sure what she is, though she dresses well and the respectable folks drive her away when they can, shun her when they can't. In fact, the only thing that doesn't look all that marvelous on the Warners' 1997-released dvd is the print itself, which is scratchy in some spots and muddy and murky in others. Not terribly so, but c'mon, Warner Brothers. You'll throw scrubbers, cleaners, and polishers and a host of long-winded commentators at suspect crime thrillers if they have `Film Noir' stamped on the front cover. How's about throwing some love and attention to an undisputed classic? As long as this one remains the only one available I strongly recommend it, although it truly deserves a full-scale restoration.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2002
"Stagecoach" is a landmark film in so many ways. While probably not the very best western ever created this stunning production is memorable as being one of the first of the genre where just as much emphasis was placed on character development as action. It also marked the breakthrough role (and first collaboration with frequent director Ford) for a young John Wayne after a decade of appearing in countless B films, and the first time that director John Ford used his most favourite location of Monument Valley, Utah for shooting which gives this film an almost out of this world ,mythical quality.
Produced in the magical year of 1939 "Stagecoach" more than holds its own with all the other great classics produced in that year. Honoured with two Academy Awards for its musical score and the beautiful performance by Thomas Mitchell as the drunken doctor travelling on the stagecoach the film tells a very simple story of the intertwined lives of a group of people travelling through dangerous Indian territory on a stagecoach and how each effects the others lives in different ways. Ford assembled a sterling cast of performers here and apart from Wayne as the wrongly convicted outlaw the Ringo Kid we have the before mentioned Thomas Mitchell (in the same year that he played Scarlett O'Hara's father in "Gone With The Wind"), as the drunken doctor who is forced to deliver a baby on route, Claire Trevor in a superb performance as the "scarlett lady" Dallas, run out of town for her morals who forms an attachment to Wayne's character , Andy Devine as the coach driver and John Carradine as the shady gambler Hatfield. Donald Meek also registers as the fumbling spirits salesman who keeps having his samples raided by Mitchell. Louise Platt also does some memorable work as the very pregnant Lucy Mallory, travelling on the stagecoach to join her husband who gives birth during the journey and with help from Dallas learns a good lesson in understanding and tolerance of other's failings. "B" movie cowboy veteran Tom Tyler also makes a rare appearance as the Ringo Kid's nemesis Luke Plummer who is involved in a shoot out with Ringo at the finale.
"Stagecoach" contains many memorable moments, the most outstanding without a doubt being the lengthy and cleverly filmed Indian attack on route which contains some of the most amazing stunt work seen in films up till then. It is the work of stuntman genius Yakima Canutt who doubled for John Wayne in all the complicated action sequnces such as when the Ringo Kid takes control of the horses leading the stagecoach when it is attacked. These stunt scenes became re-used footage in countless westerns over the succeeding years so brilliant they were and are still considered.
While not being a huge fan of the western genre I do love this film for its intelligent writing and attention to character development often not seen in alot of westerns. The beautiful location photography adds a tremendous boost to the overall look of the film and really sets the mood for the whole piece. It is such a landmark film in so many ways already mentioned however for sheer entertainment value for those that like action adventure tales it is unsurpassed. I dont feel you even need to be a western lover to enjoy it so well crafted are the characters and the action story that they are involved in. For stirring western excitement you can't go past John Ford's memorable classic "Stagecoach".
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
"Stagecoach" is one of the greatest of big-screen Westerns. Directed by John Ford, it is the film that made John Wayne a star and associated him with the Western genre for the rest of his career. Until "Stagecoach," the Western was relegated to the B-picture format. Ford showed that with a solid story, interesting characters, and plenty of action, a Western could hold its own as an A-list film.
The plot concerns a group of strangers riding on a stagecoach through dangerous Apache territory. The passengers include an alcoholic doctor (Thomas Mitchell), a woman (Louise Platt) traveling to her cavalry officer husband, a mousy whiskey salesman (Donald Meek), a gambler and Southern gentleman (John Carradine), and a prostitute (Claire Trevor) driven out of town by the Law and Order League. The Ringo Kid (John Wayne) rides shotgun.
Though Wayne and Ford were friends, Ford hadn't used Wayne in any of his 1930's pictures, telling him to wait until he was ready as an actor. In doubt about casting the Ringo Kid, Ford showed Wayne the script and asked his opinion. Wayne suggested Lloyd Nolan, but eventually Ford asked Wayne to star. That presented a problem with securing financing. Wayne had starred in only one big-budget Western, "The Big Trail" (1930), and that was a box office flop. Producer Walter Wanger wanted Gary Cooper, but Ford held firm on his decision to cast Wayne.
Ford shot much of "Stagecoach" in Monument Valley, providing some breathtaking images of the West's natural splendor. He also staged terrific action sequences with dangerous stunts during the Indian attacks.
The Criterion Blu-ray edition contains a newly restored high-definition digital transfer; audio commentary by Western authority Jim Kitses; the 1917 John Ford-directed silent feature "Bucking Broadway;" a 1968 video interview with Ford; a video appreciation of "Stagecoach" with director and Ford biographer Peter Bogdanovich; a video homage to legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt; and a booklet featuring an essay on the film and the short story on which the movie is based, "Stage to Lordsburg."
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2000
John Ford was a genius and his brilliance is shown to perfection in this classic western. This was John Wayne's first bona-fide classic and though his acting is sometimes a bit uneven, he still dominates every scene he's in, even when surrounded by superior actors. Watch as Wayne enters the Stagecoach and gives his rifle to Curly; already we see the seeds of the great performer. His screen presence really blossoms in his role as the Ringo kid.
Thomas Mitchell's performance as the alcoholic Doc Boone is one of cinema's most outstanding performances. It's a joy to watch him in every scene, especially when he's imbibing. He mixes comedy and drama as well as anyone who ever acted on the silver screen and he owns this role. Andy Devine is also charming, irreverent and marvelous as one of the stagecoach drivers. It's a pity Devine never landed many plumb roles later on his career because he's a gem. Claire Trevor's interplay with Wayne is sweet and memorable. The Duke knew she was a gal with a "checkered past," but didn't care and loved her anyway. Besides "Key Largo," this is Trevor's best screen work. The scene where she walks through the darkened town with the Ringo kid is wistful and poignant, as she has to finally admit to him that she is a "fallen woman."
Of course John Ford presides over all of this with a masterful hand. The ubiquitous backdrop of Monument Valley is shown to perfection and his genius as a director is in full bloom here. This is a movie you will cherish even if you normally hate Westerns. It's an essential movie to watch and own, a timeless masterpiece.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2001
1939 was the greatest year of Hollywood films!!! Gone With The Wind (color), The Wizard of Oz (color), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Wuthering Heights, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and "Stagecoach" to name a few. What makes this even more incredible is all but the "Hunchback" were selected to the American Film Institutes (AFI) top 100 films in the last 100 years (1998).
"Stagecoach (1939)" was the first of 2 AFI top 100 films that John Wayne & John Ford (Director) made together ("The Searchers" (1956-Widescreen color, also available in DVD) was the other).
"STAGECOACH" was the first true complex western to be made on location in the "Monument Valley, Utah. Star studded cast, great story, lots of action and unbelievable stunts by the legendary stunt man - Yakima Canutt. His stunts were so dangerous that when he asked Director Ford if he got the stunt on film. Ford replied,"even if I didn't we won't do that again!" (Ford was famous for his single takes and this Canutt stunt was immortalized forever in this grand film!!!).
So if you want to enjoy this grand western adventure of 9 desperate people crossing 170 miles of Indian territory in 2 days, jump aboard this 1939 Classic that launched John Wayne career.
This DVD in Black & White, Full Screen (before WideScreen), good quality picture for a 1939 print. Enjoy.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
John Ford's 1939 classic "Stagecoach" is a landmark film in the history of western movies in so many ways, the most memorable of which is the emergence of John Wayne as a major star. But more importantly the good guys in the white hats versus the bad guys in the black hats is finally replaced by real human beings who have their strengths and weaknesses. "Stagecoach" is about six passengers, the driver, a sheriff and an outlaw who joins them on their journey. Wayne plays the Ringo Kid, who has been framed for a murder and is seeking the real killers; Claire Trevor plays Dallas, a prostitute fleeing her unhappy life; Thomas Mitchell is the courageous but alcoholic Dr. Josiah Boone; John Carradine is the gambler, Hatfield; Berton Churchill is Henry Gatewood, a banker who has embezzled a fortune; Donald Meek is Samuel Peacock, a mousy little salesman; Louise Platt is Lucy Mallory, a pregnant woman traveling to join her husband; Andy Devine is the stagecoach driver, Buck and George Bancroft is the tough but fair minded Sheriff Curly Wilcox.
"Stagecoach" was filmed in what would prove to be Ford's favorite locale, Monument Valley, Utah. During their journey the personality of each character is revealed as Lucy gives birth, the stagecoach is attacked by Indians, and the Ringo Kid gets revenge on his enemies. A nice balance between character study and action, "Stagecoach" sets standards for how westerns should look and how characters should be real people. Wayne does not really stand out in this strong ensemble cast, but we can clearly see all the elements of the persona that would make him a screen legend. Final word of advice: skip the sequel and stick to the original. Whether you are a fan of the Duke or of the genre, this is one western you have to watch at some point in your life.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2003
Before 1939, a young actor named John Wayne had been starring in b-movie Westerns for years. The western genre wasn't taken very seriously, and neither was the young, sauntering cowboy who starred in them. Stagecoach changed all that. Director John Ford knew talent when he saw it, and with this film one of the greatest alliance/friendships in Hollywood history was formed--that of John Wayne and John Ford. Out of this memorable alliance several wonderful films came, but this was the first.
Shot in Utah's beautiful Monument Valley, Stagecoach follows the adventures of a group of unlikely traveling companions as they cross the stage route in an effort to stay clear of Geronimo and his band. Along the way, the group picks up the Ringo kid (Wayne), a confirmed killer. As the journey progresses, the group's true colors come forth, a young prostitute who was driven from her home (played by Claire Trevor) becomes the true heroine, and the stuck-up aristocratic woman, the banker, and the whiskey peddler are forced to learn a valuable lesson--that true inner character is far more important than social status.
The movie itself is a masterpiece, from the brilliant storyline to the climactic ending with the Ringo Kid's battle in the street. The cinematics are spectacular (especially for that time), and Ford's directing is flawless. There have been many, many Westerns since this one (a great deal of them starring John Wayne), but no Western has ever changed the face of the motion picture industry like Stagecoach did.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2012
This review is not about the movie itself, which is a classic and belongs in the library of anyone who loves film. I'm writing for those who already have one of the Warner Bros editions and are wondering if you should upgrade to this one. IMO, unless you're an absolute fanatic about the movie and want to explore the plentiful special features, I say no. Why? Because it simply doesn't look as good as you'd expect from a remastered Blu-ray edition. Criterion tells us this transfer is the best they could do with the elements available, and there's no reason to doubt this. It's just that these elements aren't great. The film is full of scratches, dirt and a ton of cinch marks at the beginning and end of reels, and there wasn't enough money to spend for the labor and computer time that fixing these aberrations would require. In many shots, the focus is soft. So although the Blu-ray looks better than the standard editions, it doesn't look THAT much better. The best of the remastered Blu-ray classics have set the bar pretty high for what I expect when I purchase them (such as Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Adventures of Robin Hood), and this one isn't close. If you're on the fence, rent it before you buy it. I'm sorry I didn't. If you do buy it, lower your expectations and you'll certainly enjoy it more than I did.