The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Directed By – John Ford

Screenplay By – James Warner Bellah & Willis Goldbeck

Cinematography By – William H. Clothier

Starring (The One and Only) James Steward & (THE Legend) John Wayne

123 min.

As one of John Ford’s last westerns The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a complex genre film that also serves as a great vehicle for an aging James Stewart. Where most westerns are purely about the struggle between good and evil in an unlawed society, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance brings American politics into the equation which drastically changes the vibe of this movie. Because it is not strictly a good cowboy versus bad cowboy situation, the pacing of Liberty Valance is slower than most westerns. However, the climax certainly delivers with an old school shoot-out, satisfying all of the audiences needs for suspense and action.

John Wayne is badass as always but his character is very much concealed behind the curtain of this movie, never really in the foreground of the action, except a quick scene or two. This is mostly Stewart’s movie, and of course that’s never a bad thing. (Disclaimer: Stewart’s character is a strange combination of determined and a giant pussy throughout most of this movie.)

Because this movie really tries to subvert the stereotypes of a typical western I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for a modern audience, but is more of a movie for a specific viewer wanting to watch this movie for a specific reason (because it’s a Ford western, Stewart, Wayne, or the Stewart Wayne combo plater).

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Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Directed By – Otto Preminger

Screenplay By – Wendell Mayes

Based on the Novel By – John D. Voelker (as Robert Traver)

Cinematography By – Sam Leavitt

Starring (The One and Only) James Stewart

160 min.

Yes! I fucking love America! There is something about great court movies that fills me with patriotism, and boy does this movie do that, and a lot more. Watch this movie! This is one of the quickest 160 minutes I have ever experienced. This movie is simply amazing. Suspense, drama, humor, sex, mystery, murder, rape, lies, deceit, and a terrific James Stewart. Court movies can be boring and predictable and then they can be Anatomy of a Murder. Seriously, they don’t get any better than this. If you like the law, the search for justice, a great defense and a great prosecution going back and forth in a heavy weight boxing match, for gosh sakes if you like America, watch this movie! The movie is so great that you’re not exactly sure what (who) is right or wrong by the end of it. Put yourself one of the most exciting jury seats in movie history and watch this trial.