Stagecoach

1939

Stagecoach

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 36

86%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 14,552
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Stagecoach Photos

Movie Info

Although there were Westerns before it, Stagecoach quickly became a template for all movie Westerns to come. Director John Ford combined action, drama, humor, and a set of well-drawn characters in the story of a stagecoach set to leave Tonto, New Mexico for a distant settlement in Lordsburg, with a diverse set of passengers on board. Dallas (Claire Trevor) is a woman with a scandalous past who has been driven out of town by the high-minded ladies of the community. Lucy Mallory (Louise Platt) is the wife of a cavalry officer stationed in Lordsburg, and she's determined to be with him. Hatfield (John Carradine) is a smooth-talking cardsharp who claims to be along to "protect" Lucy, although he seems to have romantic intentions. Dr. Boone (Thomas Mitchell) is a self-styled philosopher, a drunkard, and a physician who's been stripped of his license. Mr. Peacock (Donald Meek) is a slightly nervous whiskey salesman (and, not surprisingly, Dr. Boone's new best friend). Gatewood (Berton Churchill) is a crooked banker who needs to get out of town. Buck (Andy Devine) is the hayseed stage driver, and Sheriff Wilcox (George Bancroft) is along to offer protection and keep an eye peeled for the Ringo Kid (John Wayne), a well-known outlaw who has just broken out of jail. While Wilcox does find Ringo, a principled man who gives himself up without a fight, the real danger lies farther down the trail, where a band of Apaches, led by Geronimo, could attack at any time. Stagecoach offers plenty of cowboys, Indians, shootouts, and chases, aided by Yakima Canutt's remarkable stunt work and Bert Glennon's majestic photography of Ford's beloved Monument Valley. It also offers a strong screenplay by Dudley Nichols with plenty of room for the cast to show its stuff. John Wayne's performance made him a star after years as a B-Western leading man, and Thomas Mitchell won an Oscar for what could have been just another comic relief role. Thousands of films have followed Stagecoach's path, but no has ever improved on its formula.

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Cast

John Wayne
as The Ringo Kid
Thomas Mitchell
as Dr. Josiah Boone
Andy Devine
as Buck Rickabaugh
Donald Meek
as Mr. Samuel Peacock
Louise Platt
as Lucy Mallory
George Bancroft
as Sheriff Curly Wilcox
Berton Churchill
as Henry Gatewood
Tim Holt
as Lt. Blanchard
Tom Tyler
as Luke Plummer
Francis Ford
as Billy Pickett
Marga Ann Deighton
as Mrs. Pickett
Cornelius Keefe
as Capt. Whitney
Kent Odell
as Billy Pickett Jr.
Walter McGrail
as Capt. Sickels
Chief John Big Tree
as Indian Scout
Brenda Sue Fowler
as Mrs. Gatewood
Louis Mason
as Sheriff
Florence Lake
as Mrs. Nancy Whitney
Joe Rickson
as Ike Plummer
Vester Pegg
as Hank Plummer
Yakima Canutt
as Cavalry Scout
Harry Tenbrook
as Telegraph Operator
Paul McVey
as Express Agent
Jack Pennick
as Jerry the Bartender
Bryant Washburn
as Capt. Simmons
Nora Cecil
as Dr. Boone's Housekeeper
Helen Gibson
as Dancing Girl
Dorothy Appleby
as Dancing Girl
Bill Cody
as Cowboy
Duke R. Lee
as Sheriff of Lordsburg
Ed Brady
as Saloon Keeper
Robert E. Homans
as Editor in Lordsburg
Jim Mason
as Expressman Jim
Theodore Lorch
as Lordsburg Express Agent
Hank Worden
as Cavalryman
Si Jenks
as Bartender
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Critic Reviews for Stagecoach

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (36)

Audience Reviews for Stagecoach

  • Apr 08, 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.
    Joey T Super Reviewer
  • Jun 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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Apr 02, 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.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 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.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer

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