Video Clips Worth Watching: Wayne v. Marvin

Friday, February 17, AD 2017

 

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), perhaps the greatest of Westerns, contains this gem of a scene with John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Jimmy Stewart, Strother Marvin, Lee Van Cleef and Woody Strode.  Marvin as Liberty Valance is the archetypal mercenary gunslinger, his days, and the days of his kind, about to come to an end.  Wayne as Tom Doniphon, rancher, is the obverse of Marvin, a man just as tough as Valance, if not tougher, but no bully.  However, his time is also closing.  Their destroyer?   The almost clown like figure of Ransom Stoddard, portrayed by Jimmy Stewart.  He knows nothing about guns, but he knows a lot about law, and law and civilization are fast coming to the range.  This is John Ford’s eulogy to the Old West, and to this type of Western.

 

 

 

 

Bonus:  the verbal joust of John Carridine, Major Cassius Starbuckle, v. Edmond O’Brien, Dutton Peabody, where the meaning of the film is made explicit:

 

 

With this film Ford added a memorable legend to the many legends of the Old West:

 

3 Responses to Video Clips Worth Watching: Wayne v. Marvin

  • This is an excellent post. The “Frontier Thesis” was abroad in which many believed that the end of the frontier represented the beginning of a new stage in American life and that the United States.

    An artist’s requiem to the “Old West” can be seen in the works of Frederick Remington – his paintings and sculptures.

  • “Marvin as Liberty Valance is the archetypal mercenary gunslinger, his days, and the days of his kind are about to come to an end.”
    No disrespect here. It occurred to me that the gunslingers and bullies of yesterday have only traded iron for text. Today’s full of the Liberty Valances of yesterday. Some use iron. Cop killers use iron. Berkeley thugs use gasoline and rocks. To me these hateslingers are made from the same mud as Liberty. Different times, same bullies.

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