|OpenFlix > Stagecoach|
Produced in the magical year of 1939 "Stagecoach" more than holds its own with all the other great classics produced in that year. Honoured with two Academy Awards for its musical score and the beautiful performance by Thomas Mitchell as the drunken doctor travelling on the stagecoach the film tells a very simple story of the intertwined lives of a group of people travelling through dangerous Indian territory on a stagecoach and how each effects the others lives in different ways. Ford assembled a sterling cast of performers here and apart from Wayne as the wrongly convicted outlaw the Ringo Kid we have the before mentioned Thomas Mitchell (in the same year that he played Scarlett O'Hara's father in "Gone With The Wind"), as the drunken doctor who is forced to deliver a baby on route, Claire Trevor in a superb performance as the "scarlett lady" Dallas, run out of town for her morals who forms an attachment to Wayne's character , Andy Devine as the coach driver and John Carradine as the shady gambler Hatfield. Donald Meek also registers as the fumbling spirits salesman who keeps having his samples raided by Mitchell. Louise Platt also does some memorable work as the very pregnant Lucy Mallory, travelling on the stagecoach to join her husband who gives birth during the journey and with help from Dallas learns a good lesson in understanding and tolerance of other's failings. "B" movie cowboy veteran Tom Tyler also makes a rare appearance as the Ringo Kid's nemesis Luke Plummer who is involved in a shoot out with Ringo at the finale.
"Stagecoach" contains many memorable moments, the most outstanding without a doubt being the lengthy and cleverly filmed Indian attack on route which contains some of the most amazing stunt work seen in films up till then. It is the work of stuntman genius Yakima Canutt who doubled for John Wayne in all the complicated action sequnces such as when the Ringo Kid takes control of the horses leading the stagecoach when it is attacked. These stunt scenes became re-used footage in countless westerns over the succeeding years so brilliant they were and are still considered.
While not being a huge fan of the western genre I do love this film for its intelligent writing and attention to character development often not seen in alot of westerns. The beautiful location photography adds a tremendous boost to the overall look of the film and really sets the mood for the whole piece. It is such a landmark film in so many ways already mentioned however for sheer entertainment value for those that like action adventure tales it is unsurpassed. I dont feel you even need to be a western lover to enjoy it so well crafted are the characters and the action story that they are involved in. For stirring western excitement you can't go past John Ford's memorable classic "Stagecoach".
This landmark 1939 Western began the legendary relationship between John Ford and John Wayne, and became the standard for all subsequent Westerns. It solidified Ford as a major director and established Wayne as a charismatic screen presence. Seen today,Stagecoach still impresses as the first mature instance of a Western that is both mythic and poetic. The story about a cross-section of troubled passengers unraveling under the strain of Indian attack contains all of Ford's incomparable storytelling trademarks--particularly swift action and social introspection--underscored by the painterly landscape of Monument Valley. And what an ensemble of actors: Thomas Mitchell (who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as the drunken doctor), Claire Trevor, Donald Meek, Andy Devine, and the magical John Carradine. Due to the film's striking use of chiaroscuro lighting and low ceilings, Orson Welles watchedStagecoach over and over while preparing forCitizen Kane.--Bill Desowitz
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