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Video Clips Worth Watching: Wayne v. Marvin

 

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. Continue Reading

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Video Clips Worth Watching: Davy Crockett Tells the Truth in Congress

 

 

I voted against this Indian bill, and my conscience yet tells me that I gave a good honest vote, and one that I believe will not make me ashamed in the day of judgment.

David “Davy” Crockett

Fess Parker as Davy Crockett speaking against the Indian Removal Act of 1830 in the Walt Disney bio of Crockett made in the fifties.  Crockett lost his seat in Congress in 1831 due to his stand.  He ran for election in 1833 and regained his seat, only to be defeated in 1835 at which point he rode off to Texas and immortality, telling his erstwhile constituents that they could go to Hell while he would go to Texas.

Myths clustered around Crockett during his life, as he became one of the first of the media-driven celebrities.  However, there was a core of greatness about the man as the above video clip celebrates.

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Video Clips Worth Watching: Shane v. Jack Wilson

Shane: Yeah, you’ve lived too long. Your kind of days are over.

Ryker: My days! What about yours, gunfighter?

Shane: The difference is I know it.

Ryker: All right. So we’ll all turn in our six-guns to the bartender. We’ll all start hoeing spuds. Is that it?

Shane: Not quite yet. [to Wilson] We haven’t heard from your friend here.

Wilson: I wouldn’t push too far if I were you. Our fight ain’t with you.

Shane: It ain’t with me, Wilson?

Wilson: No it ain’t, Shane.

Ryker: I wouldn’t pull on Wilson, Shane. [to Will Atkey} Will, you’re a witness to this.

Shane: So you’re Jack Wilson.

Wilson: What’s that mean to you, Shane?

Shane: I’ve heard about you.

Wilson: And what’ve you heard, Shane?

Shane: I’ve heard that you’re a low-down Yankee liar.

Shane, 1953

Perhaps the greatest Western ever made, Shane is a snapshot of the West as the old West of cattle barons and gunfighters is coming to an end.  Alan Ladd as the gunfighter Shane realizes his day is done, even as he comes to understand that his attempt to change his life is futile, just as his adversary, cattle baron Rufus Ryker, does not:

 Right? You in the right! Look, Starrett. When I come to this country, you weren’t much older than your boy there. We had rough times, me and other men that are mostly dead now. I got a bad shoulder yet from a Cheyenne arrowhead. We made this country. Found it and we made it. We worked with blood and empty bellies. The cattle we brought in were hazed off by Indians and rustlers. They don’t bother you much anymore because we handled ’em. We made a safe range out of this. Some of us died doin’ it but we made it. And then people move in who’ve never had to rawhide it through the old days. They fence off my range, and fence me off from water. Some of ’em like you plow ditches, take out irrigation water. And so the creek runs dry sometimes and I’ve got to move my stock because of it. And you say we have no right to the range. The men that did the work and ran the risks have no rights? I take you for a fair man, Starrett.

Clashes of right and wrong are morally simple, while clashes of competing rights are more morally complex and Shane does a good job showing this, just as it illustrates that we can do a lot with time in this Vale of Tears, but we can’t freeze it.

Jack Palance as hired killer Jack Wilson had his breakthrough role in this film which was populated with flawless performances, many of the actors and actresses involved giving the best work of their careers to this masterpiece.  If you haven’t seen this film, please remedy this omission as soon as possible. Continue Reading

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Video Clips Worth Watching: Ernst Janning Testifies

Ernst Janning: Judge Haywood… the reason I asked you to come: Those people, those millions of people… I never knew it would come to that. You must believe it, you must believe it!

Judge Dan Haywood: Herr Janning, it “came to that” the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Start of a new series.  Burt Lancaster as German Judge Ernst Janning, Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), explains how going along with the Nazis made his life “excrement”.