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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'.

Continue reading: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Review

Gorky Park Review


OK
America's obsession with all things Soviet gave us this movie, the inevitable mystery set in the snow-shrouded, fur-hatted land of Russia (though actually shot in Helsinki). With William Hurt and Lee Marvin in the lead roles, it's hard to see how this film could go wrong, and yet it does, quite horribly. Joanna Pacula is wooden in her first movie appearance, as a Russkie ingenue who basically knows everything about why there are three bodies in a Moscow park with their faces ripped off, though she isn't talking to the cops (led by Hurt). Ultimately a mystery is revealed, and boy is it a doozy: it involves fur coats! If I ever have to hear the phrase "the sables" again I think I'll shoot myself. Hopelessly dated and morose -- and much is lost from the bestselling novel.
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