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Stagecoach

USA 1939
produced by
Walter Wanger (executive) for Walter Wanger Productions/United Artists
directed by John Ford
starring John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell, Louise Platt, George Bancroft, Donald Meek, Berton Chuchill, Tim Holt, Tom Tyler, Chris-Pin Martin, Elvira Ríos, Vester Pegg, Joe Rickson, Yakima Canutt, Chief John Big Tree, Edward Brady, Nora Cecil, Marga Ann Deighton, Franklyn Farnum, Francis Ford, Brenda Fowler, Robert Homans, Cornelius Keefe, Florence Lake, Bryant Washburn, Duke R.Lee
screenplay by Ducley Nichols, based on the story Stage to Lordsburg by Ernest Haycox, musical direction by Boris Morros

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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 away.

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 !

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD