James Warner Bellah

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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Review


Very Good
James Stewart and Lee Marvin square off in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the Citizen Kane of westerns -- about a Senator (Stewart) from the old west who returns who for the funeral of an old cowboy friend (the inimitable John Wayne), whereupon he is quizzed about his rise to power as a politician, thanks to his slaying of the evil highwayman Liberty Valance (Marvin). What follows is an unraveling of the legend behind the infamous shootout, when Stewart's pantywaist lawyer somehow outdid the rough-and-tumble villain.

A classic John Ford film (and one of the last black and white westerns to be made), Wayne and Stewart make a great Odd Couple in the podunk town of Shinbone. Unfortunately, the middle of the film sags under the overly patriotic history lessons we are given when Stewart takes it upon himself to teach the locals how to read and write. The ensuing fight for statehood isn't much better, except when Valance comes a-knockin'.

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