The Man who Shot Liberty Valance – Movies Review

History Movie Review

The man who shot Liberty Valance by Willis Goldbeck is a US western movie, which was released in the year 1962 and directed by John Ford. Several films were created in this period to depict the livelihood of the people in the region and spread certain messages among the people and the world as a whole. Clearly, this is a black and white film produced using great images, contrary to some other renowned movies made during this time. The film is based on a short story written by Dorothy M. Johnson in the year 1953 and was shot as well as directed according to the storyline of the novel.

Apparently, the start of the film is breathe taking as the introduction shows the progress as well as how the movie ends. Ransom Stoddard who is the senator and his spouse Hallie Stoddard enters a small quiet town for the burial of John Wayne riding. Admonished by one of the local news experts, the senator opens up to tell the story of how came to know Tom Doniphon. Moreover, he explains how it came about of being identified as the person who had shot Liberty Valance.

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Director John Ford directs the film back to 25 years where he recalls the activities when the senator was a young and unrealizable advocate, which led to that particular day. Many years age Shinbone was under terrorist attack by Liberty Valance, represented by Lee Marvin during the acting that caused the manifestation of barbaric cruelty in the mind of individuals. His conscience shows many murders he had done and was more jovial when using a leather bullwhip. Liberty Valance together with his two acolytes capture a stagecoach, which was moving to town, and after Ransom, one of the passengers opposed him, Valance was about to whip him to death.

Later in town, we see Ransom nursed by Peter Ericson and Nora, Swedish immigrants of the recent past, to restore back his health. To Ransom, this is paramount as he felt the need to rise again and proclaim his ideas without fear of being victimized. In addition, we come across Link Appleyard, the marshal of the drunken town; Doc Willoughy, the doctor, and Dutton Peabody, the paper editor. The three spend most of their time moving around in the kitchen of the restaurant.

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Stoddard shows up in town carrying a bag, which is packed to the edge with law books. Liberty Valance fails to put up with any person who stands up against him and the shingle, which was hanged by Stoddard at the newspaper room, is an affront. This made Valance give him a choice of either leaving the town or encounter him in a shootout at the major section of the city. Maintaining to one part, Tom views all the things but is reluctant to acting, which is evidenced by the shying away of his strength. On the other hand, there is a challenge. Tom Doniphon has pointed out Hallie as his girlfriend for an extended period of time and is creating another room, which has a good-looking porch and a rocking sit in his farmhouse as he makes arrangements for the very day he believes she has to marry him. However, Hallie falls in love with the lawyer from the East, who sets up a single-room school setting to educate people on how to read and Hallie happens to be one of the illiterate learners.

The director begins to look unavoidable by creating notable fear as the showdown between Valance and Stoddard. Indeed, this is a show of discontentment and there is a dire need for a quick solution so as to ensure there is peace and tranquility between the parties involved. At a debate that goes on between the farmer and the lawyer concerning the guns, Ransom believes in the constitution of U.S. Tom gives him a piece of advice that if he lacks a firearm and experience of using it, he will shortly or later certainly be murdered by Valance. Ransom stands firmly in the law to the point of losing his life because of what he believes in. Link Appleyard would not offer protection to him. The bitter truth concerning Valence is printed on the newspaper by the editor.

The major influences of the film’s plot are linked to the theme of social Darwinism. As seen, Ranse Stoddard, the protagonist is caught up in a struggle of “survival,” where Valance is the contender. This struggle begins when Stoddard decides to open a law firm in Shinbone. His move invites retribution from Valance and sparks a scuffle between the two until the climax of the film where they are both engaged in a gun fight. After the conclusion of the flashback, Ford directs the movie to where we see the life of Stoddard after killing Liberty Valence. Stoddard married Hallie, and after that because of the acknowledgment of his strength as the man who shot Liberty Valence, he is privileged to become the first governor of the new state. Later, he became the U.S senator and Great Britain’s Ambassador before resuming his Senate duties. Ford directs the movie to where there is a conversation concerning the nomination of the vice president. It comes to the mind of the reporter that the real report of Stoddard is base on a belief, but after a flashback in mind, he disposes the lawyer’s interview notes into flames. The man on the interview panel that he is from the West and the legend should be printed after it has contained factual information. The film ends as Stoddard tells Hallie, who appreciates, that he intends to quit politics and start law activities in the town. Through this plot the view can witness the every scenario of social, political, gender, and ethnic determination faced by Stoddard and Liberty Valence.

Media

This is an action movie, which was produced in black and white on great sound platforms. Quite some narrations and ideas have been put across to discuss the choice of instruments to use and stunts to apply. As much as some parts proved a bit difficult to come up with, it was critical that expertise be used to develop the moves and enhance the flow of the story. The director argues that he opted for the black and white media over the colored one mainly because one has to be very enthusiastic in this kind of platform to emerge the greatest and appear more realistic. Undoubtedly, an individual need to be well conversant with the activity put down the shadows in a proper manner, and the get the perspective.

The movie also was strengthened by the music, which was played from the beginning to the end bit there was a change of music in different scenarios. The main movie music was produced by Cyril J. Mockridge but Ford had to switch to Young’s song in the scenes that talked about the relationship of Hallie with Stoddard and Tom. The choice of the music was mainly to depict the reduced desire and love that had been lost. The film had special impacts, shown in the gunfire and other sound effects. When Stoddard went into the street meet Valence, we see Valence shooting Stoddard as he says the next shooting will be between his eyes. Stoddard is first enough and shoots Valence to death. The whole movie uses a combination of natural and artificial light for the clarity.

The movie has some instances of unusual camera angles, which entailed also the use of computer generated graphics. With regard to language the film uses academic and scientific jargon. This is illustrated the editor during the vice president’s nomination conversation. After disposing of Stoddard’s papers in the fire, he says, “This is the West sir.” These terms are usually used in making language more interesting to use and enhance the flow and they are used occasionally in the movie. Another instance is when the train conductor emphasized that, “Nothing’s too good for the man who shot Liberty Valence” when Stoddard pointed out that he will write to the railroad management team.

What is more, Ford and Goldbeck have used well-known actors in the film; for example, Hallie is Vera Miles, who is a well-recognized American Actress. Nevertheless, the story did not need a recognized actor in order to make up for lack of subject because the themes portrayed in the film’s plot are vivid and powerful.

Content

Three of the most pivotal scenes in the movie were when the lawyer and his wife Hallie arrived in town to attend the burial of Tom, the 25 years flashback, and the life of Stoddard after the flashback. As I had mentioned earlier, the first pivotal scene is when Stoddard and his wife Hallie get in Shinbone, which is a town in one of the western state, to attend the burial of Tom Doniphon. In the process of paying their last respect, the reporters interrogate Stoddard concerning the reason why an American Senator would have to travel for such a distant journey from Washington with the aim the attending a funeral for a small rancher. Stoddard opens up to tell the story of how came to know Tom Doniphon. Moreover, he explains how it came about when he was ‘mistakenly’ identified as the person who had shot Liberty Valance. These instances portray the limitations found in the section, of which the directory was mandated to alter. Therefore, the major problem in this scene can be described as social or cultural issue.

The second pivotal scene was the 25 years flashback when Stoddard was a young primary advocate. There are two main issues in this scene, which are social cultural and political. In this scene, we can know the man who killed Liberty Valance. Stoddard is severely bitten up to the point of death after taking Valance to task because of robbing his stagecoach. In the town, Hallie and the other individuals in the town nurse is injuries as they point out that Valance undermines the residents of Shinbone with impunity. The town drunkard marshal lacks the boldness and gunfighting techniques to confront him. Tom is the only person who is willing to in his back.

Stoddard introduces a law exercise in the town welcoming retribution from Valance, who is not in a position of putting up with the problems of his authority. Doniphon points out that Valance only understands use of force while Stoddard emphasizes the use of justice and not violent force as stipulated in the law. He is honored and respected in the town for failing to join to Valance and introducing some school where illiterate individuals including Hallie would learn how to read and write.

Tom gives Stoddard a piece of advice to leave the town after Valance threatens to shoot him. However, Stoddard believes in the constitution and is open to risk his life for what he believes in. When the evening came, Stoddard leaves to the streets in to confront Valance, who shoots his arm saying the next bullet would land between his eyes. Stoddard was faster in shooting him, and everyone in the streets was shocked when Valence fell dead. Hallie nurses Stoddard wounds and after that proceeds to saloon as they are being watched by Doniphon. Tom sets his homestead on fire as a sigh that he no longer court Hallie. Pompey offers protection to him although the building is burnt down. This is a great pivotal scene because it sheds light on who shot the Liberty Valance.

The third pivotal scene is after the conclusion of the flashback. This is of importance because Ford enlightens us on the lifestyle of Stoddard after shooting Liberty Valance. Stoddard married Hallie, and after that because of the acknowledgment of his strength as the man who shot Liberty Valence, he is privileged to become the first governor of the new state. Later, he became the U.S senator and Great Britain’s Ambassador before resuming his Senate duties. Ford directs the movie to where there is a conversation concerning the nomination of the vice president. It comes to the mind of the reporter that the real report of Stoddard is based on a belief, but after a flashback in mind, he disposes the lawyer’s interview notes into flames. The man on the interview panel that he is from the West and the legend should be printed after it has contained factual information. As they traveled back to Washington, Stoddard opens up to Hallie, who appreciates, that he has opted to quit politics and get involved in law in Shinbone. The train conductor retorts back to Stoddard by saying that there is nothing important about an individual who shot Liberty Valance. This is after Stoddard told the conductor that he is thinking of thanking the officials of the railroad in writing because of their courtesies. The main issue in this scene is political, which is depicted by the activities and the reaction of Stoddard in the talk of the vice president’s nomination. 

Bias

John Ford has directed similar movies like this one; for example, Grapes of Wrath. In most parts of the film that Ford leads, we see him recalling the activities that led to that particular day. In Grapes of Wrath film, Ford leads the old neighbor of Thomas flashing back in time explaining the way superintendents evicted different farmer families away from the lands. In this movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Ford uses flashback to show how why and how Liberty Valance was shot. Moreover, these two movies have been directed in black and white. John Ford and Willis Goldbeck do not use slant or bias. However, the reporter seems to bias towards Stoddard during the conversation of a deputy president nomination. He says that Stoddard is from the West after disposing of his interview papers in the fire. This is a form of racial bias of the people from the West. The nomination was not based on qualification but the background of an individual. This happening led to a conflict between the characters involved. The disagreement is depicted by Stoddard’s decision to quit politics and get involved in legal matters in Shinbone. Stoddard’s choice was a way of resolving the conflict.

Effectiveness

I felt privileged to have watched this movie, which was quite clear in pointing out social and historical scenarios that people face. Towards the end of the film, I became a bit reluctant to continue watching because it was biased. I did not like how Stoddard was treated by the editor during the vice president’s nomination talk as well as the response from the train conductor. The lawyer is not recognized as of important in the town yet he is the one who shot Liberty Valance, who had been terrorizing individuals in Shinbone.

Historical Context / Factual Background

On analyzing the plot, it is clear that the events portrayed in the film reflect real historical events. It would not have been possible to produce and direct this movie without the influential civilization of education, free media, and meetings in town, and statehood discussions that had been the order of the day at the time the movie was produced. The historical accuracy can be traced to the source from which the movie draws its events from. Notably, the legends of the Western culture pointed out by the Stewart and Wayne, who are continually growing old, are in complete harmony with the happenings in the film. This is one of the best political movies in America. Currently, the story of Stoddard goes together with the modern culture of United States. Appreciation of this movie points out clearly to our minds that we principled and willing to give our lives for what we believe in like Stoddard. This lesson has always made America a great nation.

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