The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
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- 123 min.
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A superbly acted and beautifully shot film that introduces a rather unique spin on the typical Western character: a man who abhors violence and wants to use the law to bring justice. I was surprised by the interesting view of democracy presented in this film, one that states that a country cannot be founded on violence or law alone. The two must work in harmony so that neither lose their effectiveness. A great film for all Western (and film) fans.
An amazing, tense and poignant depiction of the twilight of the Wild West, before it succumbed to the desperate, post 9/11 nihilism we've seen in the likes of No Country For Old Men. Bar perhaps the finale, this doesn't stoop to bitterness, but retains the class and subtle suggestion of the best of the golden age of film, allowing you to draw your own conclusions on the theme of how you would fight chaos. Stewart and Wayne are amazing, playing two very different types of men, neither necessarily better than the other, juxtaposed nicely against their well-drawn and stalwart female counterparts, and each get excellent scenes: Stoddard quietly rubbing out the words, 'education is the basis of law and order', Doniphan and the steak, what happens to Peabody, the final twist which leads to popping and inflating of certain balloons, Stoddard's conclusive look of reticence...Plenty of tough, resolute moments and ideas that are even more important in these most divided and coldly cynical of times, where cinema often only seems to reflect pyrrhic victory through brute force. Recommended.
John Ford's darkest film, and currently my favorite western of his. John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart are perfect for their roles, and this film is a definite precursor to other revisionist westerns such as The Wild Bunch.
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In 15 official lists
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This movie ranks #10 in IMDb's Western Top 50
This movie ranks #27 in IMDb's 1960s Top 50
This movie ranks #54 in BFI's 100 Westerns
This movie ranks #95 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #127 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #297 in BFI's 360 Classic Feature Films Project
This movie ranks #320 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #380 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #392 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
This movie ranks #476 in Emma Beare's 501 Must-See Movies
This movie ranks #488 in Library of Congress's National Film Registry
This movie ranks #495 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #555 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #583 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #621 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?