Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

IMDb Synopsis: A senator, who became famous for killing a notorious outlaw, returns for the funeral of an old friend and tells the truth about his deed.

I'll admit it- even though I'm a movie lover, I don't like westerns. And for a number of reasons, mainly because few of my favorite actors were in them, and the thought of (usually) just watching people shoot each other and ride around on horses doesn't appeal to me. I watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance because I really like James Stewart, I'm attempting to give John Wayne a chance, and it's considered to be one of those "every classic film fan has to see it" films. I'm still not a fan of westerns in general, but this is definitely the best one I've seen.

I mentioned previously that I was a Jimmy Stewart fan, and his performance did not disappoint- the fact that he wasn't nominated for an Academy Award baffles me. Out of the handful of John Wayne films I've watched, I consider his performance in Liberty Valance to be his finest- and that tops films like Stagecoach, Red River, and They Were Expendable. Other notable performances are delivered by Vera Miles (who is also great in Hitchcock's underrated thriller The Wrong Man) Lee Marvin as Liberty Valance himself, and Edmond O'Brien.

 I can't finish this review without mentioning John Ford. His direction was marvelous, but I wasn't surprised considering this was from the same man who made Young Mr. Lincoln and one of my all-time favorites, The Grapes of Wrath (which I reviewed a few months ago). I think it's safe to say that he's probably the greatest western director of all time.

All in all, I think The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a great film that should be seen by all classic film fans, even the ones like me that don't care for westerns.

4/5 stars


  1. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance kind of crept up on me. I've watched it many times because my parents loved it and although I started out pretty indifferent to it, by now I've realized why it's considered such a great film.

    I'm guessing that Stewart's non-nomination might be traced to a lot of critic's complaints that he was too old to play the young, naive Ransom.

  2. I haven't seen this one in a long time. I remember it being very good the last time I saw it, though. Thanks for the reminder to check it out again!

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