Buck's (Andy Devine) stagecoach is set to go to Lordsburg, filled with
strangers that all have very different motives to go there: Alcoholic Doc
Boon (Thomas Mitchell) and prostitute Dallas (Claire Trevor) because they
were driven out of their bigot hometown by so-called respected citizens,
resolute Lucy (Louise Platt) because she wants to meet her husband who's
with the cavalry, gambler Hatfield (John Carradine) because he has fallen
for Lucy, respectable banker Gatewood (Berton Churchill) because he
wants to make a clean getaway with a bagful of embezzled money, Marshal
Curley (George Bancroft) because he wants to arrest the Ringo Kid (John
Wayne) before he can shoot it out with badman Luke Plummer (Tom Tyler) and
his brothers (Vester Pegg, Joe Rickson) - and this way very probably lose
his life -, and whiskey drummer Peacock (Donald Meek), just to sell whiskey.
Bad luck has it that an Apache tribe is roaming the plains though, which puts
the whole journey in immediate peril, but everyone seems to be determined
to go on the stage anyways. Along the way, the stage also picks up Ringo,
whose horse died on him on the run from the law - and it's just his bad
luck that the stage carries exactly the Marshal determined to arrest him
The atmosphere ont he stagecoach soon turns tense sinde many of the
passengers just cannot stand each other, especially our respected citizens
- that being the banker, Lucy and Hatfield - just cannot accept the
prostitute and the drunk Doc aboard the stage, and soon enough it seems as
if Ringo is the only one who's nice to Dallas - eventually he even asks
her to marry him.
The situation gets worse when a promised army escort for the stage just
fails to show up, while the Apaches are steadily moving in for the kill.
Then Lucy, who has obviously hidden her pregnancy from everyone, delivers
a baby (only thanks to the Doc and Dallas, actually), which doesn't make
the situation any easier, but it really gets bad when Ringo - trying to
make a clean getaway from the Marshal - spots the Apaches only a few miles
Suddenly the stage and its passengers find themsleves on the run,
passing through relay station after relay station burnt down by the
Indians, and finally the Apaches move in for the kill. Our heroes bravely
defend themselves, with Ringo redeeming himself and Hatfield - who seemed
a bit sinister throughout the movie - dieing a hero's death, but
eventually, they run out of bullets and it seems they are done for ...
when finally the cavalry arrives and defeats the Apaches.
Upon arriving at Lordsburg, Ringo and company are celebrated as heroes
(safe for Gatewood, who is arrested upon arrival for embezzlement), and
the Marshal grants Ringo even ten mre minutes before he arrests him so he
can finally fight it out with Luke Plummer and his brothers - even if
Dallas begs him not to. In the end, of course, Ringo shoots all three of
them and returns to Dallas in one piece ... and seeing the two in love,
Marshal Curley decides to let them get away scot free ...
There's not much to say about Stagecoach that hasn't already
been said before: This film, wuite simply, is one of the greatest Westerns
ever, with John Ford making perfect use of his impressive outside
locations (Monument Valley, Utah) while never fogetting his carefully
etched out characters and the story's underlying human dramas. And of
course, he manages to turn John Wayne, who has spent the 1930's playing in
any number of B-Westerns, into an instant cowboy icon (even if Wayne
hardly turns in his best acting job with Stagecoach).
A must-see !