Video Clips Worth Watching: Wayne v. Marvin

 

 

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), perhaps the greatest of Westerns, contains this gem of a scene with John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Jimmy Stewart, Strother Marvin, Lee Van Cleef and Woody Strode.  Marvin as Liberty Valance is the archetypal mercenary gunslinger, his days, and the days of his kind, about to come to an end.  Wayne as Tom Doniphon, rancher, is the obverse of Marvin, a man just as tough as Valance, if not tougher, but no bully.  However, his time is also closing.  Their destroyer?   The almost clown like figure of Ransom Stoddard, portrayed by Jimmy Stewart.  He knows nothing about guns, but he knows a lot about law, and law and civilization are fast coming to the range.  This is John Ford’s eulogy to the Old West, and to this type of Western. (more…)

Published in: on February 19, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Video Clips Worth Watching: Wayne v. Marvin  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Published in: on February 18, 2017 at 3:25 am  Comments Off on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance  
Tags: , ,

History and Legend

Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?

Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

History tells us that George Washington as a boy did not cut down a cherry tree and, while telling his father about it, assure him that he could not tell a lie.  Saint Francis of Assisi almost certainly did not convert a wolf from his thieving ways and teach him to beg humbly for his  food like a good Franciscan.  Robin Hood did not help King Richard the Lionheart regain his throne from his brother John Lackland.  We know almost nothing about King Arthur and what we think we know about him is certainly almost entirely legend.

Historical accuracy is very important, and we should be unsparing about separating legend from hard historical fact.  However, that does not mean we should not also cherish the legends of historical figures.  Often the developments of the legend are an interesting historical tale in and of themselves.  However, the legends often also give us truth about the historical figure.  By all accounts George Washington was a man of extreme rectitude in all his dealings.  However that prosaic sentence lacks all of the poetry of Parson Weems’ fable of a boy too noble to lie, even when facing possible punishment.  Saint Francis probably never tamed a wolf, but the movement he started with his Franciscans has tamed the wolf in the soul of many a man and woman down through the centuries.  Robin Hood never lifted a bow for Richard the Lionheart, but the tale of the outlaw who fought for right has inspired the nobler natures of men and women for uncounted generations.  As for King Arthur, he is left in the hands of a great poet who sums up this post: (more…)