Starring: John Wayne, Clair Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Louise Platt,
Director: John Ford
A group of very different strangers are travelling in a stage coach, when they find out that they’re about to pass through dangerous territory. They decide to go on together, and in the process of facing danger learn that those who society values and deems worthy are not always the most honourable.
In the 30’s, the Western had become a B movie genre, and tended to put off audiences, so John Ford had a hard time getting this film financed, but it’s a wonderful thing that he did. Not only did it revive the western genre, and the career of John Wayne, but it went on to win an Oscar, several nominations, and became a classic film.
There are many charms to this film (glossing over how American cinema portrayed Native Americans at the time, of course), but the thing that stays with me is that no one is really what they seem in this film. John Wayne is an outlaw, and yet he turns out to be brave and honourable. Louise Platt plays the respectable wife of a soldier, and though she’s a good person, she’s initially a bit of a snob, and though delicate, turns out to be quite brave. But my favourite in this film is Dallas, played by Clair Trevor, who is a woman of questionable past, who has had a tough life, but turns out to be kind, thoughtful and brave, but not without fragility. I really liked that.
It’s got a lot more drama and relationships than your average Western, which makes for varied viewing, along with the classic Cowboy Movie shoot outs, and it has a really interesting cast of colourful characters, who often surprise you, and always entertain. It’s a film that tries to have a bit of everything, from action and adventure, to romance and character reversals, and it works. A wonderful classic film.
See It If: for John Wayne and John Ford fans, this film is a must see, but it’s also a Western that should please die hard fans, but also those who normally are put off my the cowboy film genre.