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With Hollywood westerns, a little bit of research goes a long way - in my lifetime, I've had more success with this genre of movie than perhaps any other, all because I do a little research before choosing what to watch.

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962) is the twelfth of fourteen collaborative westerns with John Ford and John Wayne (the first and ninth, respectively, being "Stagecoach" (1939) and "The Searchers" (1956)). It is perhaps the most beautiful western I've ever seen.

Loaded with famous actors, every single major and minor star outperforms in this deceptively sad meditation upon grief, love, and any of a half-dozen other basic human traits, all attending a costume party in what is most likely mid-19th-century Colorado, and cloaked as a moral dilemma involving the death of another human being.

Never have I seen John Wayne play a more important part with less screen time than in this film. Jimmy Stewart is clearly the star - he has to be - but it's Wayne who completes this movie, and who transcends himself in a role so touching that you may feel your eyes moisten in what is one of the most poignant endings of any film I've ever seen.

A death itself cannot be considered tragic (everyone who has ever lived, has died), but certain deaths are inherently more tragic than others, and when a piece of history is buried alongside an anonymous hero, lost forever to the earth, and made known only to an audience who desperately wants to jump inside the screen and construct a proper memorial - that cannot be considered a romance, or an action film, or even a western; it can only be classified as a full-blown tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.

The next time you and your date are hunting around, looking for a movie to watch, remember this thread: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is required viewing for everyone who cares about great film.

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On 3/14/2017 at 1:53 PM, DonRocks said:

The next time you and your date are hunting around, looking for a movie to watch, remember this thread: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is required viewing for everyone who cares about great film.

I can't stress enough just how good this film is. If anyone rents it, and doesn't like it, I owe you a drink.

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On 5/11/2017 at 2:47 PM, DonRocks said:

I can't stress enough just how good this film is. If anyone rents it, and doesn't like it, I owe you a drink.

*** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** DO NOT WATCH THIS UNTIL YOU'VE SEEN THE FILM

If you do, it won't ruin the movie for you (who knows, it might even enhance it), but to be safe, it's best to see it after you've watched the film in its entirety. Liberty Valance may be my favorite Western - along with "The Shootist" - and this YouTube presentation is an outstanding, even brilliant, detailed analysis of one scene:

 

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