Friday, 29 August 2008

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Years ago, I watched what I thought was most of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Then, a month ago, I bought the DVD as part of a birthday care package from Amazon, and last night watched it in its entirety. I thoroughly enjoyed it, both on a superficial level, where it works as a western, and in a subconscious perhaps-imagined sense in which it stands for the evolution of America and particularly the westward expansion.

WARNING: Artsy interpretation includes spoilers.

Jimmy Stewart plays Law'n'Order, who arrives in town and is assaulted by Lawlessness. He is brought out of the wilderness by Toughness (John Wayne), and taken in by New America (Vera Miles). New America and Toughness are an item, but the arrival of Law'n'Order makes her wonder if that's what she really wants. As the film progresses, New America realises that Law'n'Order can take her places and teach/show her things that Toughness never will, and she throws her lot in with the bookish guy, leaving Toughness all broken up. In a showdown between Law'n'Order and Lawlessness, Toughness steps in at the last minute and saves Law'n'Order's bacon, but as a result, New America casts Toughness aside in favour of Law'n'Order. Years later, America and a greying Law'n'Order return to town, and it is revealed that America regrets her decision, and although her head said Law'n'Order, it was Toughness that she really loved.

End artsy interpretation/spoilers.

Ed: I'd also add that discovering the Western genre has almost certainly been the most pleasant aspect of my IMDB Top 250 quest. I've watched the following films as a direct result of the quest: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly; A Few Dollars More; Once Upon A Time In America; Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid; The Searchers; Rio Bravo; High Noon; The Magnificent Seven; The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre; The Ox-Bow Incident; The Wild Bunch, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. About 8 of the dozen I've really enjoyed, which is a pretty good strike rate.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Can you leave me your list of 8 enjoyed Westerns? I liked Butch Cassidy and would like to watch more some time. And it there's any spare Toughness going round, send it this way.