Stagecoach - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Stagecoach Reviews

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Super Reviewer
February 15, 2014
How riveting it is to be immersed in this classic influential Western that is not only entertaining and exciting but is above all a sincere story that always rings true with its unforgettable gallery of three-dimensional characters who grow on us and make us care so much about them.
Super Reviewer
½ February 24, 2007
A stagecoach containing a disparate assortment of characters comes under Indian attack. John Ford revolutionized the genre with this beautifully crafted western and John Wayne was catapulted to stardom for his performance as the vengeance seeking gunfighter caught up in defending a group of strangers. But for me, the film is all about Thomas Mitchell as his preferred typecast of intellectual drunkard although it's one of many wonderful performances as the faultless cast represent a hugely likeable bunch and offer Ford an opportunity to highlight social prejudices. The message is to never judge a book by its cover as outlaws can be honourable, "fallen women" can be thoughtful and considerate, drunks can be courageous and respected gentlemen can be crooks. Also featuring some ground breaking stuntwork, this story has been remade many times and its influence can be seen in everything from the work of Akira Kurosawa to The Breakfast Club and it still stands up as one of the very best of the genre.
Super Reviewer
½ November 18, 2011
I realize that my review is going to be considered controversial, but listen, this is all just my opinion.

I do love westerns. They are an American institution, and, by and large, have proven to be perhaps the only genre films that are truly uniquely American.

Having said that, this film is overrated. Yes, it wasn't the first western, but it pretty much defined the genre and set the standard for basically every film to follow for the new few decades until revisionism hit starting in the late 60s. This put both John Ford and John Wayne on the map, making icons and legends out of them, but c'mon, if you strip away all of the historical, culutral, and aesthetic significances, and ignore the film's influence and legacy, it's really not all that special or interesting.

Don't get me wrong, it's good, but it really hasn't held up that well. Perhaps I'd feel a lot differently had this been the first western I ever saw, but since it is so old, and things have changed so much since then, I can't help but kinda take this for granted by default.

The plot follows nine travelers thrust together on the titular vehicle as they make their way across the west through the dangerous Apache Territory, and how they must all band together if they want to survive. Okay, so fine, the plot's not much, but the performances do slightly make up for it, and yeah, it looks decent, and the music is really good, and the stunts and action are okay, but I can't let myself get swept up in everything and give this one a high rating by default. I'll admit that I've done that sort of thing in the past, and maybe I need to be more honest and make some reconsiderations, but for now, with this one, I'm standing my ground and saying that yes, while this is a landmark film, it's not a masterpiece when taken solely on its own terms.
Super Reviewer
November 27, 2011
A motley group of people travel through dangerous "Indian country" (isn't it all supposed to be Indian country?).
As I watched this film, I found myself wondering the characters were cliches in 1939 because then I might have found something fresh and original about John Ford's film. But in 2011, I found everything predictable with the exception of the doctor's eventual heroism.
Overall, I don't feel qualified to give an educated opinion on this film; I'm trying to like Westerns, but this film feels like a racist (Natives are, of course, depicted as wild, savage, malevolent forces) cliche. I can't be the only one who thinks that, but judging from the critics' and Super Reviewers' raves, I must be.
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2011
Ringo Kid: You may need me and this Winchester, Curly. Saw a ranch house burnin' last night. 

"A Powerful Story Of 9 Strange People."

Stagecoach is among my three favorite westerns of all-time with Once Upon a Time in the West and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Stagecoach is the most significant of the three because it was the first. It opened the door for Leone and his Western epics. Stagecoach also made John Wayne an American hero and a household name. The film is fun, insightful and incredibly well made. It holds up really well for being made over seventy years ago. John Ford directed a masterpiece and the first real classic Western.

The story is obviously that of a stagecoach that is going through rough territory. It is rumored that Apache's loom not to far and the characters always keep those savages on the viewers minds by always talking about them. We don't see the Apache's for a long time, but we always feel them. The stagecoach holds some great characters. There's a gambler, a drunk doctor, a pregnant woman, a business man, a liquor man, two drivers and Ringo Kid and his love interest. 

Ringo is the most interesting of all these interesting characters. He has just broken out of the prison and is set on having his revenge on some brothers who killed his family. He isn't a bad guy. He is well mannered while in the presence of ladies and is an overall nice guy. He isn't the type of gunslinger we normally see, that kills because he enjoys it. 

There are many conflicts in the movie. There's the obvious one, that being the Apache's. There is also a portion of the movie where the passengers are stuck in a location because one of the women has just given birth. They know the Apache's are nearby and have to decide whether to stay and let the woman and her baby rest or whether to high tail it out of there and risk the woman and baby's health. The doctor is always drunk and a few of the other characters are always fighting. The passengers must band together in the end if they want to survive.

There is much more drama then anything else in Stagecoach. It is all drama for the first hour plus, then we finally get the action we have been anticipating the entire film. That isn't to say that the first part of the movie is boring, because it is anything but. The whole movie is a complete masterpiece and a movie that is an absolute must see.
Super Reviewer
December 9, 2010
Don't just think that this is just another John Ford film. It's also not merely the movie that brought John Wayne to the attention of the entire world. No, the release of Stagecoach gives birth to the modern day western as we know it. Wonderfully acted with a wide array of colorful characters, beautifully filmed (as always, of course), and impeccably made from beginning to end, it's another feather in the hat of one of film's visionary pioneers. With a sort of a road movie mentality to it, the story itself is fun and interesting. It does get a little dramatic at some points, but thankfully we've invested in the characters enough to be caught up in it. This is definitely a landmark film and not to be missed.
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2011
Ford's early masterpiece boasts Wayne's first great performance and a stand out performance from Thomas Mitchell as Doc Boone.
Super Reviewer
June 21, 2010
For me, this is what I would consider the first western classic. It also happens to be one of the most revolutionary and influential westerns and movies period. John Ford not only brings together an action packed story with sequences that puts anything before it to shame, but he also brought timeless characters together. While it?s not his first movie, this is definitely the movie that made John Wayne the legend he is today. The Ringo Kid is a figure that will never go away, resembling the true western hero. As far as I?m concerned, this is more of a start to modern film making than Citizen Kane was, winning the hearts of millions and telling a story on a scale that had never been done before.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
May 13, 2010
Director John Ford's "Stagecoach" is often regarded as his first great western, as well as John Wayne's first big, break-out starring role. The story is simple enough: a group of disparate passengers on a stagecoach must travel through indian country while Geronimo is on the warpath. The passengers include a washed-up, alcoholic doctor and a "fallen" woman who've been run out of town; a soldier's wife who is looking to find her husband; a southern gentleman (who is also a gambler and a gunslinger) who goes along for the ride, just to "protect" the lady; a bank manager who's stolen the payroll, and a traveling liquor salesman (much to the delight of the doctor, who at one point lovingly/drunkenly strokes his cheek). There's also a character named "The Ringo Kid" (Wayne) that they pick up out on the trail, but more as the sheriff's prisoner than passenger (there's a bounty on his head as he'd been feuding with the men who killed his family). At first, the stagecoach is escorted by the calvary, but due to Geronimo's activity in the area, all military must be diverted from the non-essential jobs. As the stagecoach travels from town to town, the more apparent it becomes they are on their own, as the threat of indian attack looms ever larger (Geronimo is at the forethought of everyone's minds). And yet, even the threat of death doesn't dissuade some from their societal predjudices as Dallas, the fallen woman, continues to be treated as an outcast. Only Ringo has enough compassion to see beyond her status and find her worthy of friendship (and possibly more). Stagecoach has all the elements that go into making a great western, and a tense, action-filled climax that stands up to any action sequence from any era. Stagecoach manages to follow several western conventions without ever falling into predictability.
Super Reviewer
½ May 26, 2007
Stagecoach is the granddaddy of all westerns and a pretty solid movie full of great characters and greater direction by John Ford. The cast was fantastic in the archetypal story about a diverse group of travelers trying to get through dangerous territory to safety. I never thought I'd live to see the day where I praise John Wayne, but he was astounding in his breakthrough role as the Ringo Kid. Claire Trevor was gorgeous as Dallas and there wasn't an actor (or actress) out of place in the well-chosen cast. The last act or after the Apache battle/chase (which for 1939 was extremely well done) was probably the weakest part but with each of Ford's movies I see I kick myself a little harder each time for not seeing it sooner.
Super Reviewer
June 18, 2007
Thrilling, humorous, moving. the good adjectives to describe the first Ford-Wayne masterpiece are countless. A magnificent film with richness all over, heroism, racism, social class struggles, love stories and a charming alcoholic played by Thomas Mitchell.
Super Reviewer
April 8, 2016
Movie worked much better for me on a second viewing. At the very least, it is absolutely worth seeing to see just how much it influenced not only the western genre, but also cinema in general.
Super Reviewer
September 17, 2012
Many claim that Stagecoach was the first Western that inspired so many others. It's very hard to appreciate a movie when so many others have done it bigger and better. That's my problem with Stagecoach. Yes, it may have been original in 1939, but it simply doesn't hold up today in any way.
El Z.
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2012
i am quite picky about my westerns. This is a good one... though it does not have enough of an edge. it was made in the 1930s however.
It's good...see it.
RJ Smoove
Super Reviewer
October 7, 2010
Since I first got into this website I have matured quite a bit as far as my perspective of film goes. A couple of months ago I would have called you a liar if you said I would be watching John Ford and Wayne Westerns from the 1930's. To be honest, as an artist who loves the beauty of vivid color palettes, the sight if flat black and white images usually make me want to pull my fucking hair out. That's why, despite loving comic books more than I can tell you, there are some classic comics that I cannot pick up. The same goes for film. I love color so much that it pains me to see movies without it, but I have to say that it never even crossed my mind when I was watching this.

Stagecoach is a work of sheer brilliance that everyone should see. Westerns ranked down there with Musicals as my least favorite genres for a very long time, but ever since I saw 3:10 To Yuma, my love for them has not stopped blossoming. I'm not sure, but I think this is my first time watching a John Ford movie. Maybe a John Wayne film as well. From what I learned this is the movie that propelled John Wayne into the star he became. I have to say it was a pleasure watching the birth of a star. He fit his role to perfection, as did pretty much everyone else in the movie. This movie revolves around its characters. And a character is only as good as the actor in the costume portraying them. The entire cast of Stagecoach did their part.

The dynamics of the characters was beyond fantastic. They were all very different personalities, yet they seemed to complement each other very well. The drunken doctor was my second favorite character, second only to the driver of the stagecoach. He was a big bumbling doofus, and he made me laugh at just about everything he said. He proved that humor can be very simple, yet clean, and still get all the laughs it aims to get. Very funny movie, but it has a heart as well. The whore (I guess she was a whore) who was as sweet as anyone brought heart to the story. Her relationship with Ringo developed a bit quickly for my taste, but that was a minor issue.

I can go on all day about the characters, but I won't. I'm pretty sure many have already seen it and everyone else has heard of Stagecoach at some point or another. There is a tiny bit of action in this movie as well. And I won't say too much about it because it is very reserved, and nothing exciting by today's standards, but I enjoyed watching the characters work together to survive the much anticipated Apache attack. Stagecoach considered by many to be the greatest Western of all time. While I would not go that far, it was certainly one of the best I have seen. That does not mean much because I haven't seen many. But I look forward to.
Super Reviewer
January 29, 2007
There's thrilling adventure. There's a young John Wayne. There's a stagecoach. This is the grandfather of movies about a bunch of stranger crammed into a small space while they make a dangerous trip.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ June 21, 2014
At last, people of 1939, John Ford makes his big comeback to the western genre he pioneered after a relatively sprawling hiatus of, like, four months or something. Ford made a lot of films, and arguably too many of them were westerns, but people were still excited when Ford got back into them after 13 years, especially when it turned out to also be his first western with sound. Oh yeah, because you just can't take John Wayne seriously unless you hear his voice... is what I'm saying "in a sarcastic tone" now that Wayne is tragically dead. Yeah, Wayne may have had that silly Iowa accent, but I still wouldn't have wanted to mess with him, especially when he was young and... well, about as fresh-faced as that thick forehead was going to allow him to be. I hope the people of the '30s were getting used to him, because this wouldn't be his last rodeo with John Ford, although Ford, not quite realizing that at the time, took a little while to get Wayne in this film's plot. Everyone rambles on about Wayne's presence, but remember, people, that, as the poster tagline will tell you, this is about "9 strange people", even though it's not exactly a "powerful story". You better believe that the film is decent, but don't entirely believe the praise they put into the poster, for a number of reasons.

This is something of a fluffy affair, with a light heart and humor that has, since 1939, grown dated and cheesy, with even the conflicts and plot being histrionic, maybe even out-and-out thin. If the narrative isn't superficial with its subtlety, it's simply superficial, with depth limitations that were all too common in fluffy flicks such as this one at the time, yet could be compensated for if it wasn't for developmental shortcomings. I reckon exposition is adequate, but there's little real attention to characterization which is already lacking in range altogether, partly because there is a little too much to flesh out in merely 96 minutes. This runtime isn't aggressively brief, but it's still a little too short for John Ford to have time to establish a firm sense of adventure, which is a crying shame, seeing as how the film doesn't have much going for it outside of the adventure. With all of my rambling about how thin storytelling is, superficiality is all but fitting, as the story concept, no matter how lively, is lacking in true meta and tension, of which there is still enough for the other shortcomings to kind of aggravate. With all my talk about how there's only so much to talk about in regards to this film, maybe storytelling could have been inspired enough to mold a rewarding western, as there are highlights in inspiration which reflect full potential, but in the end, whether it be because of the shortcomings of the time or simple missteps, the final product slips as an underwhelming, maybe even kind of forgettable classic. With that said, the effort holds enough of your attention to entertain plenty, perhaps even immerse with its visuals.

This is the first of John Ford's westerns to be shot in Monument Valley, which sees quite the breakout as a hot spot for western film art direction, being sweeping enough by its own right, and decorated well enough with timely production designs, to adventurously draw you into the time portrayed in and scope of this film. No matter how superficial the storytelling gets, production value at least succeeds in reinforcing a sense of adventure that this narrative ought to thrive on, seeing as how the plot concept is dynamic and subtly layered enough to potentially compensate for a lack of dramatic meat. That compensation is lost, but not entirely, for even Dudley Nichols's and Ben Hecht's script's tastes in colorful humor and set pieces have endured through all of the cheesy dating to entertain, even on paper. As for the execution, there is also something a little lacking about John Ford's direction, and yet, there is also enough color to the storytelling to hold your attention just fine, with style that is sometimes focused enough to hold some tension. Mind you, the tension only comes into play when the conflict stands, and make no mistake, conflict is limited, but it is there, and until it shows up, the film still proves to be an entertainingly well-told adventure, with its share of memorable plot points and characters. Of course, the characters might only be so relatively memorable because of their portrayals, which don't have much material to work with, and may even be a little dated, yet have stood the test of time well enough for just about everyone to charm with his or her own distinct charisma and, for that matter, chemistry, which drives comradery. Comradery is important in a film this adventurous, yet still so intimate, and no matter how thin characterization is, the performers draw you into the heart of this flick, but not alone, as there is also enough heart to dated storytelling to thoroughly entertain in a classic, if thin fashion.

In conclusion, there is some cheesily fluffy humor and plotting, which join developmental shortcomings in reinforcing a certain superficiality to the telling of an already borderline inconsequential story, thus, the final product falls as underwhelming, but through grand production value, reasonably colorful scripting and direction, and charismatic performances, a sense of adventure is done enough justice to make John Ford's "Stagecoach" a pretty fun western classic, despite its many shortcomings.

2.5/5 - Fair
Super Reviewer
April 2, 2014
This is often viewed as a film that set a template for other westerns. It may have been a ground breaker at the time but it seems boring now as the genre has moved on and improved itself. A path blazer for sure however.
Super Reviewer
½ September 24, 2010
This is the Grandaddy of all Westerns. Do not be put off by the year. Any fan of Tombstone will immediately see the influence of John Carradine's character on Val Kilmer. This is was also a blueprint for Paul Newman's Hombre.

Watch it for free online ;)
Super Reviewer
March 24, 2010
A peerless western masterpiece flawlessly directed by John Ford, this is the film that caused a renaissance in the western genre by reinvented it, the possibilities as spectacle reaffirmed and a new classicism was born in the maturing of the western, balancing character study with a treasury of memorable performances from it's exceptional cast beginning with John Wayne, as the Ringo Kid a good-guy gunslinger; in a brilliant star-making performance that propelled him to genuine superstardom, Thomas Mitchell in a memorable turn that won him an Oscar as the drunken Doc Boone, Claire Trevor as a "good" prostitute, John Carradine as a aristocratic gambler, George Bancroft as the compassionate sheriff, Andy Devine as a grizzled stagecoach driver, Donald Meek as a whiskey drummer, Louise Platt as a woman of quality and Berton Churchill as a crooked banker, all of these assorted passengers are on the same stage going into dangerous Indian country, their reactions under stress and the impending Indian attack only adds to the suspense. Stunt legend Yakima Canutt provided the hair-rasing thrills in the lengthy indian attacks. Filmed in John Ford's beloved Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border A majestic, exciting, dramatic western classic motion picture, and one of the all-time greats. Highly Recommended.
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