The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Saturday, February 18, AD 2017


Something for the weekend.  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance sung by Gene Pitney.  Originally scheduled to be the theme song for the movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the song was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  For some reason the song was cut from the film.  It rose to Number four.  Some viewers of the film erroneously recall it being the theme song for the film.

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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.

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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.

History and Legend

Wednesday, July 18, AD 2012

Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?

Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

History tells us that George Washington as a boy did not cut down a cherry tree and, while telling his father about it, assure him that he could not tell a lie.  Saint Francis of Assisi almost certainly did not convert a wolf from his thieving ways and teach him to beg humbly for his  food like a good Franciscan.  Robin Hood did not help King Richard the Lionheart regain his throne from his brother John Lackland.  We know almost nothing about King Arthur and what we think we know about him is certainly almost entirely legend.

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6 Responses to History and Legend

  • A very salutary caution, but we should not neglect the value of folk-memory.

    To give an example, within my own knowledge, I am proprietor of a small piece of ground, about 18 acres of winter pasture, known locally as the Ten Shilling Land of Boyd (the shilling is an old British coin, 20 to the pound sterling, abolished in 1971)

    The titles show it as being “a mailing or tenandry, being a Ten Shilling Land of Old Extent.” Now, the Old Extent was a survey of rental values, carried out for tax purposes by King Alexander III in 1280, whose daughter was marrying the King of Norway and he needed help to pay her tocher. It may have been based on an earlier assessment by William the Lion, a century earlier, but the evidence is not conclusive. There is a similar piece of ground, known as the Merkland, obviously of the same origin (the Merk or Mark is another old coin, worth 2/3rds of a pound sterling). So, here we have oral testimony of the assessment of this land, continuing over eight centuries.

  • This is something for which no atheist adherent of the religion of scientism has any respect.

  • I enjoyed seeing the classic scene from one of my favorite movies “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” It brought me back to my medical internship at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1962 when the title song (which never mede it into the movie) was popular. I also enjoyed seeing the clip from “El Cid” which I discussed in my book Christians in the Movies: A Century of Saints and Sinners. It looks at the arc of the treatment of Christians especially Catholics in about 200 films from 1905-2008. You seem very knowledgeable about film. Are you familiar with it or my other book “Doctors in the Movies: Boil the Water and Just Say Aah!?” I also liked seeing the clip from my all-time favorite film “Casablanca” in one of your recent posts.
    Speaking about film, your story about Father Galveston would make a wonderful film as would the story of Edmund Campion and his brother priests.
    Keep up the good work.
    Peter E./ Dans

  • I hold to the argument that there is a real figure beneath the Arthurian legend, however conflated or otherwise lost to time he may be. Something knocked the Saxons back on their heels around 500 AD, confining them to the southern and eastern parts of what is now England. The result was something unique in the barbarian-occupied Western Empire: the survival of the invading barbarians as a distinct group, with little intermarriage (or even linguistic borrowing).

    Whether that figure was named “Arthur,” or is the conflation of a later legend with a confirmable, if shadowy, historical figure (Ambrosius Aurelianus), I can’t say. But the Saxons suffered a severe reverse ca. 500 that took a couple of generations to shake off.

  • Thank you Pete! I was not familiar with your work, but I will put your books on my list to read!

  • It’s kind of like a shadow version of comparing science with religion; they’re for totally different purposes, and if you try to force one into the format of the other, it fails.

    People need stories. People need facts. A balanced person is going to need both, though the proportions are different for different folks.