History Film / TheManWhoShotLibertyValance

25th Oct '17 10:10:19 AM JamesAustin
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Directed by Creator/JohnFord in 1962, the film opens with the return of Senator Ransom Stoddard (Creator/JamesStewart) and his wife, Hallie (Vera Miles), to the small frontier town of Shinbone. Stoddard is an influential and well-liked political figure, but nowhere is he more revered than in Shinbone, the place where his career started. On this sad day, however, Ransom has returned to pay tribute to an old friend, Tom Doniphon (Creator/JohnWayne), who has died. Initially, he intends to slip in and out of Shinbone with little fanfare, but, when a newspaper reporter corners him, he decides to reveal the true story about how his life in politics began.

We see in flashback when years earlier, Ransom arrives in Shinbone broken, bruised, and bloodied after being robbed and beaten by the notorious outlaw, Liberty Valance (Creator/LeeMarvin, dripping malice and paranoia). With the help of Hallie and her parents, he recovers his health and vows to bring Valance to justice. For Ransom, a book-learned attorney with little knowledge of the real world, "justice" means "arrest and jail." But in Shinbone, where the marshal (Andy Devine) is completely spineless and almost everyone else is afraid of Liberty, justice is a bullet. This is the lesson that Tom tries to impress upon Ransom, that in Shinbone, enforcing the law requires a gun, not a book. Tom is one of the most respected men in Shinbone because of his prowess with a gun and because he is the only one who can, and will, stand up to Liberty and make him back down. The two become rivals for Hallie's affections, but each earns the other's grudging respect.

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Directed by Creator/JohnFord in 1962, the film opens with the return of Senator Ransom Stoddard (Creator/JamesStewart) and his wife, Hallie (Vera Miles), (Creator/VeraMiles), to the small frontier town of Shinbone. Stoddard is an influential and well-liked political figure, but nowhere is he more revered than in Shinbone, the place where his career started. On this sad day, however, Ransom has returned to pay tribute to an old friend, Tom Doniphon (Creator/JohnWayne), who has died. Initially, he intends to slip in and out of Shinbone with little fanfare, but, when a newspaper reporter corners him, he decides to reveal the true story about how his life in politics began.

We see in flashback when years earlier, Ransom arrives in Shinbone broken, bruised, and bloodied after being robbed and beaten by the notorious outlaw, Liberty Valance (Creator/LeeMarvin, dripping (Creator/LeeMarvin), who drips malice and paranoia).paranoia. With the help of Hallie and her parents, he recovers his health and vows to bring Valance to justice. For Ransom, a book-learned attorney with little knowledge of the real world, "justice" means "arrest and jail." But in Shinbone, where the marshal (Andy Devine) is completely spineless and almost everyone else is afraid of Liberty, justice is a bullet. This is the lesson that Tom tries to impress upon Ransom, that in Shinbone, enforcing the law requires a gun, not a book. Tom is one of the most respected men in Shinbone because of his prowess with a gun and because he is the only one who can, and will, stand up to Liberty and make him back down. The two become rivals for Hallie's affections, but each earns the other's grudging respect.
25th Oct '17 7:47:32 AM JamesAustin
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''Spoilers ahead! Tread carefully.''

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''Spoilers '''Spoilers ahead! Tread carefully.''
'''
21st Oct '17 5:36:43 AM jormis29
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* UnbuiltTrope: If you primarily know of John Wayne's work through PopCultureOsmosis, watching this film can be a bit jarring. While not Wayne's first movie as a leading man (that was ''The Big Trail''), it's largely responsible for solidifying American pop culture's image of him: it was the first movie to cast him as a LovableRogue cowboy in a ten-gallon hat and a neckerchief who defends the weak while snarking cynically, and it spawned his iconic CatchPhrase "Pilgrim", among other things. It's also a vicious GenreDeconstruction of Westerns that's ultimately about [[EndOfAnAge the death of the Old West]], and it ends with Wayne's character dying alone and unremembered after succumbing to his alcoholism, while another man [[DidNotGetTheGirl marries his only love]] and [[StealingTheCredit takes the credit]] for his final heroic deed.

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* UnbuiltTrope: If you primarily know of John Wayne's work through PopCultureOsmosis, watching this film can be a bit jarring. While not Wayne's first movie as a leading man (that was ''The Big Trail''), ''Film/TheBigTrail''), it's largely responsible for solidifying American pop culture's image of him: it was the first movie to cast him as a LovableRogue cowboy in a ten-gallon hat and a neckerchief who defends the weak while snarking cynically, and it spawned his iconic CatchPhrase "Pilgrim", among other things. It's also a vicious GenreDeconstruction of Westerns that's ultimately about [[EndOfAnAge the death of the Old West]], and it ends with Wayne's character dying alone and unremembered after succumbing to his alcoholism, while another man [[DidNotGetTheGirl marries his only love]] and [[StealingTheCredit takes the credit]] for his final heroic deed.
11th Oct '17 7:30:42 PM snichols1973
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Added DiffLines:

* TookALevelInBadass: When Doniphon has Stoddard set the paint cans on the fence posts, he shoots them, and one of them spills paint on Stoddard, who socks Doniphon on the jaw and knocks him to the ground.
29th Sep '17 8:37:42 AM GGCrono
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->''"This is the ''West'', sir. When the legend becomes fact...print the legend."''

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->''"This is the ''West'', sir. When the legend becomes fact... print the legend."''
6th Sep '17 12:17:38 PM ImperialMajestyXO
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* SensitiveGuyAndManlyMan: One of the leads is Jimmy Stewart, the other is John Wayne.

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* SensitiveGuyAndManlyMan: One of the leads is Jimmy Stewart, the other is John Wayne. This dynamic was basically inevitable.
30th Jul '17 10:27:22 AM jamespolk
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* TheSoCalledCoward: It's not that Ransom isn't brave. He just doesn't think a steak is worth dying for.



* TheSoCalledCoward: It's not that Ransom isn't brave. He just doesn't think a steak is worth dying for.
29th Jul '17 11:17:42 AM jamespolk
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Added DiffLines:

* ViolenceReallyIsTheAnswer: "You can't shoot back with a law book, Mr. Stoddard."
29th Jul '17 9:35:54 AM jamespolk
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Added DiffLines:

* NeverLearnedToRead: Hallie is embarrassed to admit that she can't read.
27th Jul '17 1:53:08 AM jamespolk
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** Ransom gets this in the start: being an upstanding paragon of civilization gets him beat, threatened, and ridiculed in TheWildWest. [[spoiler:Tom gets it in the end. By secretly helping Ransom and letting him take the credit, Tom loses his girlfriend, turns into a drunk, and ultimately winds up forgotten, broke, and buried in a simple pine box.]]
** An even more powerful example with Tom. In the brief flashback scene before he kills [[spoiler:Liberty]], the anguish on his face when he steps out of the shadows is incredibly palpable. He knows he's about to kill a man, save the life of someone he doesn't particularly care for, and lose the woman he loves. Everything in his life is about to change, and not for the better. Also, what is overlooked in this scene is that Pompey ''had already gotten there before Tom and was standing there with his rifle,'' and given how much Pompey clearly respected Ransom, Pompey may have been about to kill [[spoiler:Liberty]] himself. Tom would not have wanted Pompey to be punished if the truth ever came out, which was another reason for him to kill [[spoiler:Liberty]] himself.

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** Ransom gets this in the start: being an upstanding paragon of civilization gets him beat, threatened, and ridiculed in TheWildWest. [[spoiler:Tom Tom gets it in the end. By secretly helping Ransom and letting him take the credit, Tom loses his girlfriend, turns into a drunk, and ultimately winds up forgotten, broke, and buried in a simple pine box.]]
box.
** An even more powerful example with Tom. In the brief flashback scene before he kills [[spoiler:Liberty]], Liberty, the anguish on his face when he steps out of the shadows is incredibly palpable. He knows he's about to kill a man, save the life of someone he doesn't particularly care for, and lose the woman he loves. Everything in his life is about to change, and not for the better. Also, what is overlooked in this scene is that Pompey ''had already gotten there before Tom and was standing there with his rifle,'' and given how much Pompey clearly respected Ransom, Pompey may have been about to kill [[spoiler:Liberty]] Liberty himself. Tom would not have wanted Pompey to be punished if the truth ever came out, which was another reason for him to kill [[spoiler:Liberty]] Liberty himself.



* BittersweetEnding: Tom, [[spoiler:just as much a hero as Ransom (in his own way),]] dies drunk and alone. Ransom hasn't gotten over his guilt [[spoiler:that Tom never got his credit]], and that he took Tom's happiness away when Hallie fell for him. Worse, the legend [[spoiler:that Ransom killed Liberty Valance - a total lie -]] remains. The only good thing at the end is that Ransom lived up to Tom's hopes [[spoiler:of using that lie]] to give Hallie - and the residents of Shinbone and the West - a better life.

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* BittersweetEnding: Tom, [[spoiler:just just as much a hero as Ransom (in his own way),]] way), dies drunk and alone. Ransom hasn't gotten over his guilt [[spoiler:that that Tom never got his credit]], credit, and that he took Tom's happiness away when Hallie fell for him. Worse, the legend [[spoiler:that that Ransom killed Liberty Valance - a total lie -]] - remains. The only good thing at the end is that Ransom lived up to Tom's hopes [[spoiler:of of using that lie]] lie to give Hallie - and the residents of Shinbone and the West - a better life.



* ChangedMyMindKid: Subverted when [[spoiler:Tom Doniphon acts the part of the cavalry in the gunfight with Valance, but neither audience nor characters know it until much later]].

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* ChangedMyMindKid: Subverted when [[spoiler:Tom Tom Doniphon acts the part of the cavalry in the gunfight with Valance, but neither audience nor characters know it until much later]].later.



* DareToBeBadass: An interesting example, where Tom challenges Ranse to fess up, [[spoiler: accept the false story of killing Valance]], and give Hallie "something to read and write about"!

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* DareToBeBadass: An interesting example, where Tom challenges Ranse to fess up, [[spoiler: accept the false story of killing Valance]], Valance, and give Hallie "something to read and write about"!



* DeadMansHand The [[spoiler:titular character Liberty]] draws this hand right before being shot.

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* DeadMansHand The [[spoiler:titular titular character Liberty]] Liberty draws this hand right before being shot.



* FakeUltimateHero: Senator Stoddard as the title character. [[spoiler:He didn't]].
* FlowerMotif: The cactus blossom that Hallie places [[spoiler: on Tom's coffin.]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saguaro Saguaro blossom]] is the state wildflower of Arizona, hinting at which territory the film depicts.

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* FakeUltimateHero: Senator Stoddard as the title character. [[spoiler:He didn't]].
He didn't.
* FlowerMotif: The cactus blossom that Hallie places [[spoiler: on Tom's coffin.]] coffin. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saguaro Saguaro blossom]] is the state wildflower of Arizona, hinting at which territory the film depicts.



* {{Foreshadowing}}: Liberty is playing poker when Ransom calls him out for his lynching of the newspaper editor Peabody. He tosses down [[spoiler:Aces and Eights - The infamous "Dead Man's Hand"]]. John Ford uses this often.
* FramedForHeroism: Ransom gets a heroic reputation for killing a man, and that reputation can propel him into the White House if he wants. [[spoiler:He didn't commit the killing in the first place. He gets rewarded for something he didn't do. On the other hand, his ''real'' heroism is being willing to make a stand and face Valance rather than fleeing.]]
* GenreDeconstruction: The film is ultimately about the death of the Old West, and it ends with Tom [[spoiler:dying alone and unremembered after succumbing to his alcoholism, while another man marries his only love and takes the credit for his final heroic deed]].

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* {{Foreshadowing}}: Liberty is playing poker when Ransom calls him out for his lynching of the newspaper editor Peabody. He tosses down [[spoiler:Aces Aces and Eights - The infamous "Dead Man's Hand"]].Hand". John Ford uses this often.
* FramedForHeroism: Ransom gets a heroic reputation for killing a man, and that reputation can propel him into the White House if he wants. [[spoiler:He He didn't commit the killing in the first place. He gets rewarded for something he didn't do. On the other hand, his ''real'' heroism is being willing to make a stand and face Valance rather than fleeing.]]
fleeing.
* GenreDeconstruction: The film is ultimately about the death of the Old West, and it ends with Tom [[spoiler:dying dying alone and unremembered after succumbing to his alcoholism, while another man marries his only love and takes the credit for his final heroic deed]].deed.



* HeartbrokenBadass: [[spoiler:Tom Doniphon, who lost the woman he loved and his chance to become a heroic, legendary figure, though the last part probably didn't bother him as much as the first part. Losing the woman he loved to Ransom haunted Tom for the rest of his life and he was never able to move on from it and find love again with anyone else.]]

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* HeartbrokenBadass: [[spoiler:Tom Tom Doniphon, who lost the woman he loved and his chance to become a heroic, legendary figure, though the last part probably didn't bother him as much as the first part. Losing the woman he loved to Ransom haunted Tom for the rest of his life and he was never able to move on from it and find love again with anyone else.]]



* HeroicBSOD: Played straight, both ways. Ransom feels guilty enough about shooting a man, even if it was a monster [[spoiler:like Liberty Valance]]. Tom doesn't feel guilty [[spoiler:about ''really'' shooting Liberty]], but his life falls apart anyway when Hallie switches her affection to Ransom, whom Tom despises AND respects.
* HeroicSacrifice: Tom refuses to take credit for killing [[spoiler:Liberty Valance]] because Hallie loves Ransom now, and because Tom knows that Ransom can do better - and provide for Hallie better - with that reputation than Tom can.

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* HeroicBSOD: Played straight, both ways. Ransom feels guilty enough about shooting a man, even if it was a monster [[spoiler:like like Liberty Valance]]. Valance. Tom doesn't feel guilty [[spoiler:about about ''really'' shooting Liberty]], Liberty, but his life falls apart anyway when Hallie switches her affection to Ransom, whom Tom despises AND respects.
* HeroicSacrifice: Tom refuses to take credit for killing [[spoiler:Liberty Valance]] Liberty Valance because Hallie loves Ransom now, and because Tom knows that Ransom can do better - and provide for Hallie better - with that reputation than Tom can.



* IJustWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: Tom Doniphon [[spoiler:shoots Liberty Valance]] and saves Rance because Hallie would have been sad if he had died. He also bows out when he finds that Hallie has fallen deeply in love with Rance and not with him, and ends up miserable and alone as a result.

to:

* IJustWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: Tom Doniphon [[spoiler:shoots shoots Liberty Valance]] Valance and saves Rance because Hallie would have been sad if he had died. He also bows out when he finds that Hallie has fallen deeply in love with Rance and not with him, and ends up miserable and alone as a result.



* LoveTriangle: Ransom, Hailie and Tom Doniphon. It's played with in that it seems at first that Hailie loves Ransom which she does, [[spoiler:which drives Tom to sacrifice his future for Hailie's. But the final scene implies that years later, Hailie may have loved Tom after all]].

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* LoveTriangle: Ransom, Hailie and Tom Doniphon. It's played with in that it seems at first that Hailie loves Ransom which she does, [[spoiler:which which drives Tom to sacrifice his future for Hailie's. But the final scene implies that years later, Hailie may have loved Tom after all]].all.



* MistakenForBadass: Tenderfoot lawyer Ransom Stoddard kills the notorious outlaw Liberty in a gunfight, making him a local hero. [[spoiler:Except it wasn't really Stoddard...]]

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* MistakenForBadass: Tenderfoot lawyer Ransom Stoddard kills the notorious outlaw Liberty in a gunfight, making him a local hero. [[spoiler:Except Except it wasn't really Stoddard...]]



* PropagandaHero: Ransom Stoddard is for better and worse, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", even if he was pacifist by nature and did not want to shoot Liberty Valance [[spoiler:and ultimately did not shoot Liberty Valance]], that reputation got him into political office and led him to do great deal of good for the lawless town and promote much progress. That myth is so powerful and so important to the town's reputation that the legend has indeed become fact as is clear in the film's closing lines:
* {{Rancher}}: Tom Doniphon had a small ranch. He was going to marry his sweetheart and grow cactus blossoms. [[spoiler:She falls in love with Ransom instead.]]

to:

* PropagandaHero: Ransom Stoddard is for better and worse, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", even if he was pacifist by nature and did not want to shoot Liberty Valance [[spoiler:and and ultimately did not shoot Liberty Valance]], Valance, that reputation got him into political office and led him to do great deal of good for the lawless town and promote much progress. That myth is so powerful and so important to the town's reputation that the legend has indeed become fact as is clear in the film's closing lines:
* {{Rancher}}: Tom Doniphon had a small ranch. He was going to marry his sweetheart and grow cactus blossoms. [[spoiler:She She falls in love with Ransom instead.]]



* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVsCynicism: Falls somewhere in the middle, though it is still arguably the most cynical of all the films that John Ford directed and both of the lead actors starred in. On one hand, Tom does [[spoiler: give up everything he holds dear for the sake of the town, his friend, and the women he loves.]] Yet on the other hand [[spoiler: he dies alone and forgotten while his friend takes the credit (even if reluctantly so).]]

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* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVsCynicism: Falls somewhere in the middle, though it is still arguably the most cynical of all the films that John Ford directed and both of the lead actors starred in. On one hand, Tom does [[spoiler: give up everything he holds dear for the sake of the town, his friend, and the women he loves.]] loves. Yet on the other hand [[spoiler: he dies alone and forgotten while his friend takes the credit (even if reluctantly so).]] so).



* TreacheryCoverUp: The film ends on an inversion. The reporters chose to cover up the fact that Ransom confessed [[spoiler:that he did not kill the eponymous outlaw which made him a legendary figure]].

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* TreacheryCoverUp: The film ends on an inversion. The reporters chose to cover up the fact that Ransom confessed [[spoiler:that that he did not kill the eponymous outlaw which made him a legendary figure]].figure.



* UnbuiltTrope: If you primarily know of John Wayne's work through PopCultureOsmosis, watching this film can be a bit jarring. While not Wayne's first movie as a leading man (that was ''The Big Trail''), it's largely responsible for solidifying American pop culture's image of him: it was the first movie to cast him as a LovableRogue cowboy in a ten-gallon hat and a neckerchief who defends the weak while snarking cynically, and it spawned his iconic CatchPhrase "Pilgrim", among other things. It's also a vicious GenreDeconstruction of Westerns that's ultimately about [[EndOfAnAge the death of the Old West]], and it ends with Wayne's character [[spoiler: dying alone and unremembered after succumbing to his alcoholism, while another man [[DidNotGetTheGirl marries his only love]] and [[StealingTheCredit takes the credit]] for his final heroic deed]].
* TheWestern: Deconstructed. A man's heroic deeds in taming the West, which involve killing a killer, [[spoiler:prove to be a sham]], and worst of all [[spoiler:when he finally tells the truth about how it happened,]] the people he tells it to refuse to accept the truth.
* WhamLine: Tom to Ransom: [[spoiler: "Besides...''you'' didn't kill Liberty Valance."]]

to:

* UnbuiltTrope: If you primarily know of John Wayne's work through PopCultureOsmosis, watching this film can be a bit jarring. While not Wayne's first movie as a leading man (that was ''The Big Trail''), it's largely responsible for solidifying American pop culture's image of him: it was the first movie to cast him as a LovableRogue cowboy in a ten-gallon hat and a neckerchief who defends the weak while snarking cynically, and it spawned his iconic CatchPhrase "Pilgrim", among other things. It's also a vicious GenreDeconstruction of Westerns that's ultimately about [[EndOfAnAge the death of the Old West]], and it ends with Wayne's character [[spoiler: character dying alone and unremembered after succumbing to his alcoholism, while another man [[DidNotGetTheGirl marries his only love]] and [[StealingTheCredit takes the credit]] for his final heroic deed]].
deed.
* TheWestern: Deconstructed. A man's heroic deeds in taming the West, which involve killing a killer, [[spoiler:prove prove to be a sham]], sham, and worst of all [[spoiler:when when he finally tells the truth about how it happened,]] happened, the people he tells it to refuse to accept the truth.
* WhamLine: Tom to Ransom: [[spoiler: "Besides...''you'' didn't kill Liberty Valance."]]"
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