Senator Raines Stoddard returns to the town of Shinbone in the Wild West to attend the funeral of his friend, Tom Doniphon. To a journalist who questions him about the reason for his visit, the senator tells the story of how his career began–the career of the man who shot and killed Liberty Valance.
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What can happen when a great director, a master of his craft, and a brilliant cast of actors play all the main roles in the film? That’s right – a masterpiece! Which, as a matter of fact, in this case, it did. Let’s look at the constellation of names assembled by Ford: the resourceful James Stewart (Rains Stoddard in the film), the cynical ‘big man’ (Ford’s own epithet) John Wayne (Tom Doniphon), the enchanting Vera Miles (Hallie), the reincarnating Lee Marvin (Liberty Valance), flamboyant and comic Edmond O’Brien (Peabody), convincing Andy Devine (Marshal Appleyard), rock man Woody Strode (Pampy), dapper John Carradine (Major Starbuckle), perennial screen thug Lee Van Cleef (Reese). ..
The picture begins with an intrigue: a very high-ranking man, Senator Stoddard, arrives with his wife in provincial Shinbone for the funeral of a certain Tom Doniphon, a man no one knows in his own town. The newspapermen can’t figure it out, so they turn to the senator himself with a question: Who was the dead man? Stoddard hesitates a little, but still begins his most interesting story…
Cumback – the plot of the film is carried back 20-25 years. Trained lawyer Raines Stoddard arrives in a town somewhere in the Wild West. A warm welcome awaits him on the outskirts of Shinbone as Raines’ stagecoach is attacked by the Valance gang. Stoddard is robbed and beaten half to death…
Who is this Liberty Valance? Lee Marvin’s character is a scumbag and a psychopath, unusually cruel to his victims, who believes in complete impunity. Locals try not to get involved with Valance, and the ‘guardian of the law’ Marshal Appleyard hides far away at the mere mention of his name. With the main bandit, his two accomplices follow him wherever he goes – the three of them are fearsome indeed. Only one man in town is not afraid of Valance and his gang – the powerful and solid Tom Doniphon. (Practically no D. Ford movie in those years was without John Wayne.)
Doniphon finds the bleeding lawyer, effectively saving his life. Raines is cared for by the family who run the local inn, including Hallie, the girl Tom Doniphon is in love with. After recovering from his beating, Raines stays to work here as a dishwasher.
Raines Stoddard begins to teach the locals, both children and adults, how to read and write. Among his students is Hallie, who at one time failed to learn to read and write. These classes promote mutual sympathy between Raines and Hallie. A classic ‘love triangle’ emerges – Tom / Hallie / Raines. Hallie likes both Tom and Raines, but each in his own way. For example, Raines is intelligent and educated, but also completely unable to stand up for himself, relying only on his knowledge of the law. Tom, on the other hand, is strong and courageous, but does not recognize education.
Valance, meanwhile, becomes more and more insolent. Spotting his former victim Stoddard in the inn one day, Valance begins to mock him. Thus, Raynes, who has hitherto honored only the code of laws, involuntarily comes to the inescapable thought of acquiring a pistol with which to defend himself…
An insanely interesting film, you can’t tear yourself away! There are many unbelievable scenes, such as the part where Raines teaches the locals how to read and write, or the brilliantly filmed ‘elections’ in the saloon, or the eye-catching scene with the horse in the convention hall (‘this is a convention, not a rodeo!’). Everything is laced with a fair amount of humor, though there is plenty of seriousness as well.
The picture also contains some curious symbolic moments. For example, here is an amusing fact: in ‘Winchester 73’ and in ‘Destry’s Back in the Saddle’ James Stewart plays an extra-class marksman, while here he plays a clumsy man who is taught himself how to hold a gun. 🙂 Or another nuance: James Stewart and Lee Marvin, who oppose each other in the film, are both participants in the most brutal battles of World War II.
In my opinion, ‘Liberty Valance’ may well compete with ‘Stagecoach’, ‘Red River’ and ‘Seekers’ for the right to be called D. Ford’s best picture. Ford. In any case, this film is certainly in the director’s top three. I highly recommend everyone who loves westerns to watch it. The answer to the question ‘who is the man who shot Liberty Valance?’ is, believe me, very interesting.
Codec: HEVC / H.265 (57.6 Mb/s)
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1
English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
English: Dolby Digital Mono
French: Dolby Digital Mono
Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
Spanish (Latino): Dolby Digital Mono
German: Dolby Digital Mono
Italian: Dolby Digital Mono
Japanese: Dolby Digital Mono
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