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Wick's Review

Created Aug 24, 2011 09:17PM PST • Edited Aug 27, 2011 05:38PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    What a trip – iconic images before they were cliches, John Wayne’s star-making performance, a crisply compelling story. Legendary director John Ford’s first talkie Western warrants its status as one of the most influential movies of all time. Clocking in at a mere 96 minutes, it’s also tautly entertaining.

    How does it compare to other legendary Westerns? IMO, it’s superior to High Noon and The Searchers, though that’s some mighty tough competition there.

    Is it worth watching three quarters of century after it was made? Damn straight it is.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    John Wayne’s entrance occurs well into the movie, when he appears in soft focus astride the dusty trail. A star was born right then and there. Shockingly young, he bears a resemblance to James Dean. Good thing, since he’s playing the Ringo Kid.

    Andy Devine charms as the nervous stagecoach driver. Devine’s high pitched, raspy voice should be enshrined in the Smithsonian.

    John Carradine cuts a classic figure as a Southern gentleman gambler. Put it this way, he wears a cape and wears it well.

    Claire Trevor was the star who sold the movie when it came out, John Wayne being then unknown. Her performance as a shunned woman of ill repute is fine, but not legendary.

    Thomas Mitchell delights as the drunken doctor, creating the archetype celebrated in countless Westerns ever since and even by the Beatles in Rocky Raccoon.

    Berton Churchill is a hoot as a nefarious bank president. His early looks of displeasure are priceless.

  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Very Good 3.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Perfect 5.0

    Viewing Stagecoach makes clear why John Ford is idolized by Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and many other legendary directors.1 For instance, Stagecoach’s perfection in cinematic POV suggests that Spielberg learned to not show the shark from Ford.

    1 Source: Wikipedia

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Perfect 5.0

    “Well, they’re saved from the blessings of civilization,” and many other classic lines.

    More generally, the story adroitly groups an interesting bunch of characters for a dangerous and fateful journey, gives each key roles and lines, mixes in morality and irony, and proves surprising at key junctures.

  11. Music Perfect 5.0

    Great use of rousing music when the stagecoach rolls, otherwise talkie. Impressive for Ford’s first non-silent Western.

  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    The first movie filmed in Monument Valley, it set the stage for many more by John Ford and scads of other directors.

  13. Content
  14. Tame 1.4

    You gotta love that the woman being driven out of town by the “Law and Order League” is never identified as a prostitute. Movies were so much more genteel back in the day.

  15. Sex Innocent 1.2
  16. Violence Gentle 1.5
  17. Rudeness Polite 1.5
  18. Glib 1.5

    Never questions the war between Americans and Native Americans. My how times have changed, especially in Hollywood.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.6

    Wouldn’t ya know it, the east-bound stagecoach from Tonto, Arizona Territory to Lordsburg, New Mexico Territory goes nowhere near Monument Valley, even though the movie passes through again and again.

  20. Biological Glib 1.5
  21. Physical Glib 1.5


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