John Ford, John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart together in a Western about the Myth and Truth of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Senator Ranse Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) returns to the city of Shinbone in the Wild West, to go to the funeral of his friend, Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). To a journalist, who's wondering what the senator is doing in Shinbone, he tells how his career started as "the man who shot Liberty Valance".
A journalist at the end of the movie sums up the theme of this terrific Western in a nutshell: "If you are forced to print the truth or the myth, you always print the myth."
And that's what the old West was all about which really is a great analogy of Americana as we know it right now in this early 21st Century.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance centers on the story of Ranse Stoddard, an idealistic man fresh out of law school who gets beaten almost to death by Liberty Valance in a stagecoach robbery and seeks justice. But not the justice of fists and guns like they usually do in the old West, but justice of the law in this young country determined to set up law and order.
John Wayne is old school but smart. He knows the world isn't like the one Ranse lives in and perceives it is, but it's coming soon. Liberty Valance is a bad man and needs to be punished, but what's the moral way to punish him? But more importantly, what's the way in this current lifestyle and world to give someone the justice they deserve?
This is a film where the three key creative people are all doing the things that they are great at. John Wayne playing the blue color Cowboy with a strong moral code. Jimmy Stewart playing the white color idealist wanting the world to be a good place. And John Ford directing another Western with strong universal themes that still stand the test of time now and probably forever. And this is really the film that defines all of their careers as it's the most mature and grownup film that all of them made.
The world was changing in the old West and there was a shift of power in man and who controlled the young country of U.S.A.. The men who were smart with their brains were fitting in much better than the men who were smart with their hands. Most people want the world to be a better place than what they live in, but very few knew how. And the ones who were then were now the book smart and literature savvy types who were figuring things out much quicker.
It's a much better story to say that the man who can play the new game of politics was the hero than the drifter who is not as well spoken and doesn't have the media savvy that was then beginning to be so important. Both of the characters Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne play are good people and both have obvious courage, but one is headed for a much brighter future because he's the one with better pedigree. While the other won't even be remembered at the end of the day.
One character gets it all. The fame, fortune and even the girl as the other dies without nobody knowing who he was but it really the true hero. And it's not the history books that write the truth because they seem to want to write the best story.
A must see film for anyone a fan of storytelling.