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
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).