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Stagecoach


ayresorchids
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Hi, all. I was enjoying this movie again last night, and I subsequently went to take a look at the comments and discussions about it on the IMDb. Many of the folks writing there had a notion about the relationship between Ringo (John Wayne) and Dallas (Claire Trevor) that had never occurred to me, so I wanted to ask your opinion.

 

********SPOILERS!********

 

I have always perceived Ringo to be aware from the outset of Dallas' past as a "shady lady," even if he isn't sure whether she was a prostitute. As I see it, he overlooks it as soon as he sees her treat others in the coach with kindness. He immediately figures she is a good enough person to be treated equally with the "good woman" onboard. When he sees her with the baby, that clinches it--who cares what she did in her past? He wants her for a wife.

 

Many people claim that he isn't aware of her past until near the end, when they take a walk in the red-light district of Lordsburg and she is heading to a friend's house there. I think she is trying to tell him "what she was" when they take this walk--she looks so touchingly pained--but I am sure he already knew. That is one thing that has always made him such an appealing character to me (well, that, and Wayne being so amazingly attractive in this movie!).

 

What do you think?

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Hi Ayres . I saw this move a long time ago and I am wanting to see it again , I would love to talk more about it but I don't have much to say until I see it again . Did you watch the Ford documentary last night there was some footage of Stage Coach on . Nice to meet you ,Inglis P.S I am a huge John Wayne fan I wish I had more time to watch all his movies again,and again

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Ayres,

 

I never had the impression that Ringo knew all along about Dallas' background.

 

He just knew her as one of the women on the stage. He treated her with kindness because the Kid is one of those characters that doesn't see the class system when talking with people. He treats people based on how they treat others. He has little patience with the bank president and treats him differently because he sees that the bank president is a blow hard.

 

Doc, Curly and even Andy Devine all seem to believe that Ringo has no knowledge of Dallas' reason for being on the stage or her "profession". Dallas doesn't think the Kid knows.

 

If he knew then the dynamics of all involved would be different, especially in a Ford film.

 

It is a great western. I had hoped that TCM would show the restored print last night but it had some damage to it and made me think that it wasn't the restored version.

 

As an aside, the original negative was melted down for its silver content during WW2 (as were many other film negatives of that time).

 

Inglis is right, if you missed the Directed by John Ford doc last night, be sure to catch the encore performance on the 21st, as it is a great documentary and testiment to a great filmmaker.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing the "Cavalry" trio back to back next week.

 

Had hoped for the restored "Searchers" and "Liberty Valance" but I can keep waiting.

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Ahh, I love discussions about ?film theory.?

 

My opinion is that the actual issue doesn?t have much at all to do with what Ringo knew or didn?t know about Dallas. It all had to do with what a typical 1939 movie audience knew about Dallas, and when they learned it. Today, we adults can all usually figure it out from the very beginning because of the way the local ladies citizen?s committee escorted Dallas out of town. But many young people and some adults in a 1939 audience would not have figured it out until much later in the film, after Dallas gave them a lot of obvious clues, including the one at the very end.

 

But even then, some members of a 1939 audience would have never figured it out during the course of the film, because the way John Ford present it, it was quite secretive and his hints even left some room for doubt, even at the end, and it left some room for possible thoughts that she might be just some kind of gambler or just a drifter who was not the marrying kind. The house she approached at the end of the film didn?t look much like a brothel. There weren?t a lot of people going in or out of it. Maybe she was going there to stay with some past boyfriend or sugar-daddy, much like the Navajo city girl in ?Laughing Boy,? and like some of the girls in countless other 1930s movies. They weren?t all prostitutes. Many of them just had a number of different live-in boyfriends they would drift around to from time to time. In fact, I think John Ford gave the girl that ?out?, that way out, since he never really made it clear as to whether or not she was a prostitute or just a dame who lived with guys while not being married.

 

Dallas? exact ?past? was kept much more secret from the 1939 audience than Belle Watling?s profession in ?Gone With the Wind?, and Joan Crawford?s profession in ?Rain? (1932). I think it?s possible that Ford wanted to separate Dallas? nice-lady persona during most of the film from her ?past? profession, or perhaps just from her past lifestyle of living, unmarried, with men, so that she would seem to be a nice character to match up with John Wayne?s nice character.

 

As far a cowboys and sailors wanting to marry such girls in films, this is actually a fairly common theme in 1930s films, and it's almost a requirement in early 1930s pre-code films. The same thing happened in ?Rain?. It happened in ?Winchester 73? after Shelly Winters was escorted out of town by a ladies citizen?s committee. The same thing happened with the jewelry merchant in ?Skyscraper Souls?. In that film, the director knocked the audience over the head with the obvious evidence about his girlfriend, to make sure they would understand the girl?s profession and how the jewelry merchant didn?t care about her past.

 

And I?ve seen the same thing happen in plenty of other western and war movies. I?ve even heard of these things happening in real life. After all, John Wayne killed three men at the end of the movie, he was a rough character, he?d been in prison for years, he?d escaped from prison. He wasn?t a preacher or a naive merchant. He was a tough cowboy, he knew what was what, and I think he would have preferred to marry a pretty Dallas ? who wasn?t too old, who was kind, and who was still very good looking ? rather than marry a girl like the quiet and less lusty soldier?s wife (the one who had the baby).

 

What was really more difficult for me to accept was John Wayne?s character in ?The Angel and the Badman?, giving up his rowdy ways to marry the innocent Quaker girl.

 

So, I would say that the Ringo character knew, almost as soon as meeting Dallas, enough about her to realize something was in her past, but he also learned enough about her during the trip to not care what was in her past.

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Yes, I agree, Fred. For one thing, Dallas is wearing a loud plaid dress, one of the 1930s-50s costumes that indicates "loose woman" of the 19th century (think of Emmy Slattery's outfit in GWTW).

 

There is a moment where either Buck or Curly or Doc asks Ringo how old he was when he went into prison. He says he was 17, and perhaps that indicates that they think he's unaware of Dallas' past.

 

As she and Ringo take a walk to her friends' place near the end, they walk past a number of prostitutes and clients to get to a sort of shanty. That would indicate, as you suggest, that she may be close to the profession in some way, but not of a brothel per se.

 

You're right that the theme does show up fairly often, but it always impresses me, because I've seen so many other 1930s films in which women were shunned by men just for being unmarried and sexually active. There was such a strong double standard still at work even then (or at least films seem to indicate that there was).

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Wonderful discussion. This is more like it.

 

My thought was Ringo doesn't literally know about Dallas but I don't think it takes him very long to figure it out. The way she is treated, especially by Carradine, in that he doesn't give her the same respect as the other woman would indicate that she is somehow less of a woman. I don't imagine there are many options that qualify for that treatment.

 

In the end they are very much alike. They have similar pasts and a similar heart.

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Thanks for the comments, Ayres and movieman, and everyone else. This type of discussion is about the real art of making movies. Here we are, delving into great depths into the characters of essentially fictional characters, but after seeing a great film like Stagecoach, many of us feel that we know the characters and that they are real people. This is the way I feel when I watch Gone With The Wind, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, and many other classic films. Some films are so great, I continue to wonder about what ever happened to the characters in the years after the film ended. I hope they are doing well. I hope they are happy. I hope Ringo stayed out of jail, and I hope he and Dallas had some nice kids.

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One of the most interesting aspects of the Directed by John Ford doc the other night was Ford's use of music in his films.

 

The score to Stagecoach by Max Steiner is very different from the music in Ford' films where he used Alfred Newman or American folk music.

 

I like the main theme to Stagecoach but the rest of the underscore doesn't do alot for me.

 

Don't get me wrong, I like many of Steiner's other scores for films but I always wonder what Stagecoach would have sounded like if it had been scored by Alfred Newman.

 

Newman and Ford seemed to have a much better understanding of what Ford was trying to accomplish and worked together so that the music underscored a film beautifully.

 

On the other hand, no one knew in 1939 that Stagecoach would go on to be a cinematic classic. That year Ford also directed "Drums Along the Mohawk" and "Young Mr Lincoln" which have also become cinematic classics.

 

Everyone working in Hollywood seemed to have a heck of a year in 1939, professionally speaking.

 

Message was edited by:

lzcutter because look and like are two different words.

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I've always wished that "Trail to Mexico (Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie)" had been alternated with one other theme a bit more during the proceedings, but on the whole I like the music in Stagecoach very much (especially the song sung by Chris' "savage"--anyone know the title?).

 

One favorite movie of mine in which I feel the music is a bit intrusive is They Were Expendable. I think it would have been more effective to have some music more modern to the early 1940s. I love "Marcheta" and the song at the beginning, just before war breaks out, but the traditional background theme used toward the end of the movie just doesn't work (I'm not remembering much of this very well, but it might be something like "Marching to Georgia"). I read somewhere that MGM scored the film after Ford was done. Anyone know anything about that?

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Remember that STAGECOACH's score, a loose mishmash of folk melodies assembled by half a dozen credited composers, won the Best Dramatic Score Oscar over Max Steiner's GONE WITH THE WIND, Mikl?s R?zsa's THE FOUR FEATHERS and Newman's BEAU GESTE, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, and DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK.

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Remember that STAGECOACH's score, a loose mishmash of folk melodies assembled by half a dozen credited composers, won the Best Dramatic Score Oscar over Max Steiner's GONE WITH THE WIND, Mikl?s R?zsa's THE FOUR FEATHERS and Newman's BEAU GESTE, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, and DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK.>>

 

CSJ,

 

As a film music lover that just strikes me as beyond weird. I think the score to GWTW is much better than the score to Stagecoach. It has been years since I have seent the other movies but I'm willing to bet that Beau Geste, Four Feathers and Drums may at least come close to equaling GWTW.

 

How in the world did Stagecoach win Best Music?

 

Tis a Puzzlement.

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Max Steiner did not write any music or participate in any way on STAGECOACH. I know when Stanley Black recorded a suite back in the 70's Steiner was credited as composer. Incorrect. Boris Morros was general musical director and Richard Hageman wrote most of the cues.

 

Yes, the melodies are traditional western songs. But their adaptation and interpolation into the fabric of the score was what attracted so much attention. Of course it, in no way, approaches Steiner's mammoth accomplishment on GONE WITH THE WIND, which remains one of the greatest of all romantic-style scores. But I think Academy voters were looking for a category where they didn't HAVE to vote for GWTW, so they picked on music (always the bridesmaid category-wise). Steiner got his revenge, though, with his next Selznick score. In 1944 he was the only one of 9 nominees to win the Oscar for SINCE YOU WENT AWAY.

 

Nevertheless, STAGECOACH is a wonderful score, perfect in its often delicate treatment and support of the drama. It is also very much a harbinger of Hageman's future scores for Ford's Cavalry Trilogy and THREE GODFATHERS.

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Thanks, ChelseaR for that. It didn't sound like a Steiner score. I think somewhere back in the day I owned the Stanley Black record.

 

On another note, Jim Glennon, son of "Stagecoach" cinematographer Bert Glennon, passed away a few weeks ago. He was an acclaimed cinematographer in his own right, winning an Emmy for his work on "Deadwood".

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"Steiner got his revenge, though, with his next Selznick score. In 1944 he was the only one of 9 nominees to win the Oscar for SINCE YOU WENT AWAY."

 

I wonder if there's any way to get ahold of the Since You Went Away score on cd. I have a vinyl two-record set of the soundtrack (and even then it's missing some favorite cues) that was put out by the Max Steiner Foundation (or something like that) in the 1980's. Would love to have this on cd though. That beautiful cd set that TCM/Rhino put out of the Gone with the Wind soundtrack is fantastic. How they've spoiled us...

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  • 2 months later...

Ok I just heard the reference to "Apache Wells" in the movie Stagecoach.

 

There are several "Apache Wells" in Southern Arizona, some around Mesa. Some at about 200 Miles West Northwest of Lordsburg. So, now I'm a little more "oriented" at where this film is supposed to take place. Also I see the Saguaro cactus just outside the stage station. That looks like Southern Arizona to me.

 

http://www.desertusa.com/july96/du_saguaro.html

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