Classics Review: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Salutations fellow movie goers from across the globe. Today’s article involves a classic western starring two iconic Oscar winning actors about a lawyer (played by Jimmy Stewart) who pays his respects to his late friend (played by John Wayne) as he recalls about their friendship after a vicious outlaw (played by Lee Marvin) brutally attacks him. What I’m referring to is the basic premise from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance came out in 1962. It received critical acclaim from critics and movie goers alike. In addition to being called one of the greatest western movies of all time, the film made enough money at the box office. Roger Ebert listed this film as part of his “Greatest Movies List.”

The following review doesn’t feature any pivotal SPOILERS. Feel free to read this article if you have never seen this classic gem. If you’re a youngster or close to the same age as me, I’ll give you a chance to not accidentally give anything away.

Good & Bad Elements

Good: John Wayne & Jimmy Stewart both did a tremendous job for their respective performances as Tom Doniphon & Ransom “Ranse” Stoddard.

Lee Marvin did a great job for his performance as the titular antagonist, Liberty Valance.

John Ford did a fantastic job directing the picture.

Fun Fact: Family Guy creator, Seth MacFarlane confirmed The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance as his personal favorite western movie. By the way, Sergio Leone (one of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite filmmakers) claimed that Liberty Valance inspired him to direct The Dollars Trilogy & Once Upon A Time In The West.

Cinematography felt normal without any technical problems throughout.

The film recreates the essence of The Old West.

Set Pieces were manually built by set decorators.

Costume Designs reflected the time period or The Old West.

The Duke (John Wayne’s nickname) uses his signature catchphrase, “Pilgrim.”

Character Development involving Ranse as he must learn to defend himself rather than talkin’ his way out of a conflict.

Friendship between Tom & Ranse is the main highlight of the story. Tom serves as Ranse’s mentor by teaching him how to defend himself from danger.

For those who’re scratching their heads about Jimmy Stewart’s character named “Ransom.” Back then, Ransom was a given name in The Old West. I’ll gonna slide this as a pro for using a given name which used to normal many years ago, is now considered an odd name next to Apple (Chris Martin & Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter) & North. (Kanye West & Kim Kardashian’s daughter) at least Ransom ain’t THAT cringeworthy in my opinion.

Lee Van Cleef (The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, Escape From New York) makes an appearance as one of Valance’s henchmen.

A character’s name is Mr. Peabody. A possible reference to an intelligent dog from Rocky & Bullwinkle’s segment titled “Mr. Peabody & Sherman.” I didn’t cringe, I thought it was funny just hear that name. Thank goodness it wasn’t stupid like Ethan Hawke’s character Bruce Kenner (surname rhymes as in Jenner) from Regression.

An overweight marshal talked like Jesse Pinkman’s buddy, Badger from Breaking Bad. Every time I hear that voice, Badger automatically pops inside my head.

According to John Ford, he stated the reason why he wanted to shoot the film in black & white format, is to reflect the morality whether or not shooting is the right thing to do in terms of self-defense. In addition to the film’s morality tale, John also said he preferred to shoot in black & white, sticking to an old school tradition. To be honest, I totally agree with him. What he’s trying to say is, “If you want to make a picture shot in black & white, use every aspect of the story in a realistic level.”

The “Mentor Archetype” parallels two different perspectives. One with Ranse teaching the townspeople to read and write, while Tom tries to persuade Ranse to use a weapon.

Near the end of the movie, a Plot Twist occurred. I’m giving this pro an Extra Point, because I didn’t see that coming. Can’t tell you the big reveal, you’re gonna have to see for yourself.

Bad: I couldn’t find anything wrong with this film. I’m giving The Cast & Crew an Extra Point for making this film as flawless as possible.

The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a masterpiece considered to be one of the best western movies of all time also one of John Wayne & Jimmy Stewart’s signature films of their careers. If you’re a fan of westerns growing up with your parents/grandparents, I strongly recommend it pilgrims.

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