- Actors: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Edmond O'Brien
- Directors: John Ford
- Writers: Willis Goldbeck, Dorothy M. Johnson, James Warner Bellah
- Producers: John Ford, Willis Goldbeck
- Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC
- Rated: Not RatedUnrated
- Number of tapes: 1
- Studio: Paramount
- VHS Release Date: February 19, 1997
- Run Time: 123 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 711 customer reviews
- ASIN: 0792106989
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,014 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance VHS
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"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." That's more than the code of a newspaperman in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; it's practically the operating credo of director John Ford, the most honored of American filmmakers. In this late film from a long career, Ford looks at the civilizing of an Old West town, Shinbone, through the sad memories of settlers looking back. In the town's wide-open youth, two-fisted Westerner John Wayne and tenderfoot newcomer James Stewart clash over a woman (Vera Miles) but ultimately unite against the notorious outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). Ford's nostalgia for the past is tempered by his stark approach, unusual for the visual poet of Stagecoach and The Searchers. The two heavyweights, Wayne and Stewart, are good together, with Wayne the embodiment of rugged individualism and Stewart the idealistic prophet of the civilization that will eventually tame the Wild West. This may be the saddest Western ever made, closer to an elegy than an action movie, and as cleanly beautiful as its central symbol, the cactus rose. --Robert Horton
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While John Wayne and James Stewart are excellent, they are both 25 years too old for their parts: The then-real-life-53-year-old James Stewart is playing a "young lawyer" who has gone out West to open a law practice! When he wears the old age makeup for the opening/closing sequences, you're wondering (if you're thinking about it) how much older (?) should he be at this point. Still, the movie is so good and moves so well that few people will take the time to think about such issues. On the other hand, despite his age (around 54 when this film was made), it's hard to image anyone else being so perfect as John Wayne in this Western.
“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” offers many good supporting performers including Woody Strode and Andy Devine. Lee Marvin is Liberty Valance, and Strother Martin & Lee Van Cleef play his henchmen -- Look for those 3 to also play together in “The Grave” episode of the classic original “The Twilight Zone” series.
This HD transfer looks to be an older transfer, and it has a bit too much DNR (digital noise reduction) that erases film grain but also erases some detail from the image. It's not bad, but it's not perfect. Most people will not notice (as I do, and I wish this were better), as the movie is one of the truly great Westerns (and I'm not a big Western fan).
I do wish that the Director, John Ford, would have used Gene Pitney's excellent theme song in the opening credits -- Pitney's ballad is so well known and so fitting that you sometimes imagine that it is in the movie.
John Ford directed this black-and-white film of the old West, set in a fictitious frontier town called Shinbone just after the Civil War. The movie tells of the gradual change of the Western frontier from a place of lawless violence and ignorance to a society under the rule of law which promotes education, opportunity, the work ethic, and patriotism. The Old West is represented in the film by Tom Doniphon (John Wayne), a tough gun-toting and seemingly cynical rancher while the changing West is represented by a newcomer, a young naïve lawyer from the East, Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart). In his brusque way, Tom has been courting a young woman, Hallie (Vera Miles) but a contest develops for Hallie's affections with Ransom.
Shinbone has been terrorized by the brutal and ruthless outlaw for whom the film is named (Lee Marvin). Liberty Valance has been hired by cattle interests to oppose the territory's petition for Statehood. Ransom had been whipped to near death by Valance when he arrived law books in hand with Shinbone. He tries to set up a law practice and in the process teaches Hallie to read and write and establishes a small school to teach about civics. The movie turns on a showdown between Valance and Ranse and on the less violent fight between Ranse and Tom for Hallie.
The film is told as a lengthy flash-back after Ranse and his wife Hallie return at the outset of the film to Shinbone after 25 years away to attend Tom's funeral.
In 2007, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry fas being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically" significant.This story celebrates both the Old and the changed West as it tells of American courage and persistence and of American faith in democracy, law, and education -- values which resonated strongly in the United States in 1962. Our country went through many difficult years, resulting in a tendency to question America's stated commitment to these values and to deflate films such as "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance". Now, it 2015, I was able to see the film for the first time and respond to it. Perhaps I together with many other Americans have been chastened to a degree in the many years following 1962 and may learn again from the values portrayed in the film.
Turns out the man who beat Stewart is named Liberty Valance, menacingly well played by Lee Marvin, who, next to John Wayne of course, is the toughest man in the territory. And everyone except for Wayne is scared of.
Despite threats from Marvin, Stewart stays in town opening an office next to the newspaper and also teaching Miles and others how to read and write. Soon the territory is up for statehood, Marvin and the big ranchers he works for are against it, while Stewart and most of the townspeople are for it. The newspaper prints articles against Valance and for statehood. Marvin and his gang destroy the newspaper and beat the editor, Mr Peabody. Marvin tells Stewart to get out of town or get a gun, after seeing the beaten Mr Peabody, Stewart gets a gun and goes looking for Marvin. Marvin toys with Stewart and when it appears Marvin is going to kill Stewart, Stewart shoots and kills Marvin.
Stewart is later nominated as the territory's representative to congress but he becomes depressed that his popularity is built on the fact that he killed Liberty Valance and leaves the nominating convention. But as he's leaving he's stopped by someone and discovers that he might not be the man who killed Valance after all.
I can't possibly say enough good things about this movie. Not only is it among the best westerns ever made, it is among the best movies ever made period!!!
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