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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

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I agree with a lot of what you have summed up with regards to the meaning of the story.

 

All I can add is that the speech given by Peabody relates to this clash of the two different types worlds; the west of guns and violence and the west of LAW (and also the two different types of men).

 

This is one of my favorite westerns for this reason. I don't think Ford was trying "to rob Ranse of his dignity and worth". In the scene before this they talk about all the great things Ranse has done to build the state. Ranse was a key leader in making the state the place it was; a place where men and women could raise their families in peace and harmony. The line 'nothing is too good for the man that shot Liberty Valance' is just to remind us that the Toms of this world are ALSO important and should never be forgotten.

 

As for Hallie you have that down pat also and her choice of men mades this clear. Of course this might be my own romantic notion but if Ranse was gunned down, I don't think Hallie would have stayed with Tom anyway. She was moving from one world type to another and she would of just found another man like Ranse. While the pickens might be slim there would be other men like Ranse as the west moved towards civilization.

 

Violence, war, conflict,,, these are all necessary of course so there can be civilization. Both Tom and Ranse were necessary to change the 'old west'. I don't get the impression one man type was better than the other. They just served different purposes and some women love one type or another.

 

As for my use of 'of' instead of 'have'. Bad habit and I don't mind being corrected. Hey I need it!

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I would hope that Wayne let Steward take 'center stage' was because this is what the plot and script called for. In other words Wayne was an actor and he acted the part as called for (and very, very well in my view).

 

The same with The Searcher, Red River and other roles where he played a flawed hero. Yes, in Valance Tom Wayne was a towering figure but often as a bitter drunk and all because of a gal. Again, I respect Wayne for playing the role. I'm not sure Wayne would be one of the most remembered actors of the classic movie era if he only played the type of hero of boyhood dreams.

 

 

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I completely agree. I really have no problem with Stoddard's heroics at all. After Valance and his fellow scum assault Mr. Peabody, Ranse Stoddard is prepared to face certain death. What we should note are 2 things, Tom knew that Ranse Stoddard was guilty of no behind the scene shananigans to steal Hallie away from him and he had to respect Stoddard's courage for meeting Valance out in the street...and both Tom and Ranse knew he hadn't a bare -a s s e d chance in hell of besting Valance. Doniphan couldn't have intervened more directly because Stoddard himself would have objected. In the end Tom Doniphan acts with valor because of his love for Hallie. What else could he do? If he stood by and did nothing Stoddard would have been a dead man for sure and Hallie would have probably held it against him for not doing something to save Ranse's life. Let me just close by saying that Edmond O'Brien should have won a supporting oscar for playing Dutton Peabody. I think it is O'Brien's finest screen performance.

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Actually I believe Edmond O Brien (Mr Peabody) killed Liberty Valance. The day before the shooting, Mr Peabody slipped some "luminous poison" in Liberty's drink. So just as Liberty raised his gun to shoot Rance Stoddard the poison took affect. Liberty was already "D.O.A." when the shots rang out. Therefore, Mr Peabody, editor and janitor of the Shinbone Star should have gotten credit for killing Liberty Valance. And Peabody should have gotten the girl and became the U S Senator. And Rance Stoddard and Tom Doniphon would have both become the new town drunks. :)

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It was my original intent to make a comment about the lack of any reference to Edmond O'Brien in either the intro or exit commentary by RO and AB. Edmond O'Brien gives his usual strong performance in "Liberty Valance", I don't know if it was Oscar worthy but he deserves recognition for it.

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I think it was definitely Oscar (trademark) worthy. Who would he have been competing against?

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I agree the performace was oscar worthy. O'Brien wasn't nominated but Ed Begley (winner), Victor Bruno, Telly Savalas, Omar Shair, and Tenence Stamp were.

 

 

 

 

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:) There's another thread with this name in the Westerns forum and I posted my comments there last night after the movie was over. I understand you're not supposed to duplicate postings so I won't here.

 

I've really appreciated the comments I've read here. This seems like a simple Western at first but is much more complex underneath. You've given me much to think about and compare to my own thoughts.

 

The way the town begins to exercise its inherent political power, even in this primitive community, is something you don't often see. Also the pride in being a new voting citizen is what most of us could trace an ancestor back to. Rance was right to encourage this. Tom reminded us that this priviledge is something that must at times be fought for. Both men were necessary to the establishment of Shinbone.

 

As to Tom being guilty of murder, Liberty Valance was a cold-blooded killer hiding behind a claim of self-defense. He knew Rance had little to no chance of getting him in a fair fight but wanted him dead because he was the main threat to Liberty's keeping power. Tom's killing Valance was in defense of Rance's life and potentially others as well. It's like killing the enemy who's going to do the same to your buddy in war. This was a war of good vs evil for the town.

 

Did Hallie ever know Tom, not Rance, killed Valance? She was not there when Tom told Rance or outside when the shoot-out occurred. Rance would have had to tell her. If she learned it at the funeral, I doubt she would have left him after all that time. If she knew before, going to the ashes of Tom's house and finding the rose for his coffin might have been her way of saying thank you. I don't think she betrayed Tom; she simply fell in love with Rance. Tom simply cared more for her than she did him. She wasn't unaware of his feelings and I think felt some sadness that she couldn't return his love. I wonder if Rance's decision to retire to Shinbone now that Tom was dead came became he knew Tom wouldn't be seeing them together and hurting.

 

One last point: Did these folks have any idea that they were making a classic that would end up being discussed 50 years later as we are? I'm told the movie was not well received by critics and the public-our mistake. If only they were around to see how much it's loved today! :)

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People need to remember that Rance was a lawyer (I know you know this), and that Tom told him the act of killing Valance was murder. Thus Rance couldn't tell anyone since he knew the law and thus knew that would of placed Tom in trouble.

 

I still believe that because Hallie wanted him to was NOT the only reason Tom killed Valance. I think he did at least for two other reasons; because he knew the west couldn't be 'won' with people like Valance on the loose and because he understood someone like Rance was necessary for the terrority to become a state. Yea, Tome told Rance the reason all related to Hallie but I think that was just Tom's bitterness talking and a way for Tom to rub that bitterness into Rance's face. Of course maybe I'm giving Tom more credit than he deserves.

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When Rance tells the reporter that maybe it's time to tell the story and he looks at Hallie and she nods her head. I always took it that she did indeed know the real story of the killing and yes, it's time the truth be known.

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I think I figured the real story out. First, Ranse never took advantage of Tom killing Valance but rather Tom pushed him into doing so. At the convention Tom was very blunt with Ranse. After Tom gives him the straight dope Ranse asks "But why, Tom?" most earnestly and Tom replies very bitterly "I wish I hadn't!" That could mean that even after killing Valance Tom might still have expected to hold on to Hallie although his surly behavior after the shooting suggests that he knew that by saving Ranse's life he was going to lose Hallie. At the convention Tom pushes Ranse into going with the lie with *"You taught her how da read, pilgrim, now give her something to read about!"* What I think is this. Tom must have known after revealing the truth to Ranse at the convention, honest man that he is, Tom knew he would relay the true story back to Hallie. This was Tom's way of salvaging his pride. It was his way of saying to Hallie *"Well, I saved your boyfriend for ya...now get outta here!"* Tom Doniphan was a very prideful man. It was his way of saying to her that although her betrayal had broken his heart, she would never break him. *Attaboy, Duke!*

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Does the movie say how Tom lived his life after the shooting? I just don't recall.

 

e.g. did he get married, have kids, build that great ranch he wanted to build, etcc...

 

The movie makes it clear that Ranse and Hallie go on to have a very fine life but I don't remember if the same is true for Tom.

 

All of the above are things Tom would of done if Hallie loved him and decided to marry him. If Tom didn't do these things than she did break him.

 

Note that I don't believe she betrayed him. Until one is married falling in love with another is NOT betrayal in my book.

 

 

 

 

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John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart were to old to be cast in their roles. Jimmy Stewart's make up in the early scenes was clownish but no one cares. A tribute to the greatness of Wayne and Stewart.

 

 

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At the beginning of the film Stewart wants the undertaker to put the Duke's gun and belt on his body. Andy Devine says "he hasn't worn them in years" . That and the fact that few present day people in Shinbone seem to remember Tom Doniphon suggests that after the Valance shooting, Tom Doniphon went into a seculsion, probably just stayed at his little ranch and lived like a hermit. Only Pompey and a few others saw him.

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Dad-gummit! Now I gotta see this movie again. I'd seen it twice before: Once in the sixties and again several years back on my brother's DVD. Both times I watched it for the performances of the cast members, I guess because I like the entire cast and I liked watching them work. I will say that I thought John Wayne's performance seemed a little over the top in some scenes. I figured he was trying to out-act James Stewart and out-macho Lee Marvin and Woody Strode. But as I read this thread and the thread in the Western threads on this movie, I can see the motivation.

I guess as I watched this movie in the past, I missed the story details and looked at the characterizations superficially.

 

The 2 threads on this movie are fine examples of what movie discussions should be. They've inspired me to wanna see this film again.

 

One note: The record by Gene Pitney, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which was never used in the movie, seems to have some confusion as to who wrote it. In my Google research, I found sources that credit Gene Pitney, James Taylor and Bert Bachrach. It has me confused, but I think it was Bachrach.

 

Why it was never used, there seems to be some confusion. Some say John Ford hated it. Some say it was offered to Gene Pitney after the movie's release.

 

 

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When Lon Chaney's clown in *He Who Gets Slapped* killed the evil father and smarmy suitor yesterday-dragging the poor lion into it-I thought of this post. That was taking the law in your own hands and was clearly wrong. I still think Tom's killing Valance, who was about to kill the nearly defenseless Rance, was different from that. I didn't feel as queasy about that as I did the clown murders and those in *Phantom of the Opera.* I guess that's why the law has degrees of murder and justifiable homicide. Thank you for giving the rest of us and me something to think about.

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I believe it is considered justifiable homicide to kill someone in the defence of another's life.

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I think the scene in the bar before the shooting makes it clear that it would NOT of been justifiable homicide for a third party to kill Valance while having a 'fair' gun battle with Ranse. Valance makes a point to the Sheriff and everyone else in the bar that Ranse has a gun and that Rance is the one asking for him to step out into the street. The Sheriff says that it is ALMOST an unjustifiable killing because everyone knows Valance can out shoot Ranse. Well almost still implies that Valance had a legal right to defend himself. Ranse was clearly the aggressor. Thus Tom wasn't defending Rance in the legal sense of self-defense. One cannot be the aggressor and claim self defense.

 

Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on Aug 17, 2011 5:58 PM

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Something that has bothered me for years is the scene where Liberty Valance supposedly beats Mr. Peabody to death. After Liberty beats Mr. P, his minion, Strother Martin exclaims "He's dead!"

Further along Ranse is listening to Mr. P's (supposedly) final words and when he finishes, Mr. P performs the age old head turn to infer he passes away. Instead they editing cuts back to Ranse quickly before he finishes the head turn. 

Could it have been that Ford changed his mind about Mr. P's demise and decided to keep his character alive? For whatever reason. Just a thought.  

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Withot a doubt must rank among Hollywoods all-time top ten Westerns & Lee Marvin was robbed of a s. actor Oscar as Liberty  Plus, Edmond 0'B5rien-(doing a superb Thomas Mitchell bit) was equally tremendous

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on my walls-of-fame I have a picture of Ford from Premiere magazine that reads "The Man Who Shot The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"unquote

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On 8/14/2011 at 8:49 PM, wouldbestar said:

:) There's another thread with this name in the Westerns forum and I posted my comments there last night after the movie was over. I understand you're not supposed to duplicate postings so I won't here.

 

I've really appreciated the comments I've read here. This seems like a simple Western at first but is much more complex underneath. You've given me much to think about and compare to my own thoughts.

 

The way the town begins to exercise its inherent political power, even in this primitive community, is something you don't often see. Also the pride in being a new voting citizen is what most of us could trace an ancestor back to. Rance was right to encourage this. Tom reminded us that this priviledge is something that must at times be fought for. Both men were necessary to the establishment of Shinbone.

 

As to Tom being guilty of murder, Liberty Valance was a cold-blooded killer hiding behind a claim of self-defense. He knew Rance had little to no chance of getting him in a fair fight but wanted him dead because he was the main threat to Liberty's keeping power. Tom's killing Valance was in defense of Rance's life and potentially others as well. It's like killing the enemy who's going to do the same to your buddy in war. This was a war of good vs evil for the town.

 

Did Hallie ever know Tom, not Rance, killed Valance? She was not there when Tom told Rance or outside when the shoot-out occurred. Rance would have had to tell her. If she learned it at the funeral, I doubt she would have left him after all that time. If she knew before, going to the ashes of Tom's house and finding the rose for his coffin might have been her way of saying thank you. I don't think she betrayed Tom; she simply fell in love with Rance. Tom simply cared more for her than she did him. She wasn't unaware of his feelings and I think felt some sadness that she couldn't return his love. I wonder if Rance's decision to retire to Shinbone now that Tom was dead came became he knew Tom wouldn't be seeing them together and hurting.

 

One last point: Did these folks have any idea that they were making a classic that would end up being discussed 50 years later as we are? I'm told the movie was not well received by critics and the public-our mistake. If only they were around to see how much it's loved today! :)

the public probably didn't like it for the same reason it is such a downer too many.

it's a great film ruined by Hallie breaking heroic tom's heart.

 

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