The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

1962, Western, 2h 2m

50 Reviews 10,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Featuring a trio of classic leading men and a rich story captured by a director at the peak of his craft, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one of the finest Westerns ever filmed. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Questions arise when Senator Stoddard (James Stewart) attends the funeral of a local man named Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) in a small Western town. Flashing back, we learn Doniphon saved Stoddard, then a lawyer, when he was roughed up by a crew of outlaws terrorizing the town, led by Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). As the territory's safety hung in the balance, Doniphon and Stoddard, two of the only people standing up to him, proved to be very important, but different, foes to Valance.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Audience Reviews for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

  • Feb 17, 2022
    Filled with fascinating contradictions (yeah they say "print the legend" at the end but that is after the movie tells the truth) and its perfectly cast.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 27, 2013
    "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend". That quote is a great one, especially when it comes to taking a closer look at history, but especially historical memory, and its impact. And it's the key to this film too, which is one of many standouts from its legendary director John Ford. Jimmy Stewart is Ransom Stoddard- a greenhorn eastern lawyer whose efforts to dispense his brand of justice out in the small western town of Shinbone are hampered by the local menace Liberty Valance, played wonderfully by Lee Marvin. John Wayne plays Tom Doniphan- the toughest and meanest man in Shinbone (next to Valance), who does his best to help Stoddard, despite some complications, namely their methods of how to proceed, as well as the fact that they're both pining after the same lady- the lovely Hallie, who is played by Vera Miles. This is one of many elegiac westerns that was ahead of its time for trying to demythologize the west before it became popular. It's also maybe the only time in his career where Ford is presenting things with a decent amount of pessimism, something that would also later get popularized a few years later along with revisionism, and demythologizing. The acting is great, and Ford had a tremendous cast to work with, There's also lots of smaller appearances from way too many genre luminaries to count, and that certainly scores the film some extra points, too. I love how, even though this was made in 1962, they chose to shoot in black and white, and almost exclusively in interiors. There's a few moments outside, but there's none of the grand landscape shots you might expect. I think it really adds to the mood, tone, and point the film is trying to make about expectations versus reality.The music is also pretty fine as well. All in all, this is a superb film. Definitely give it a watch.
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 27, 2013
    Jimmy Stewart reduces the Duke to a block of wood with a classical performance but it doesn't matter much in the end. The plot thickens nicely and the good guys of course come out ahead. What you want from a good western.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 01, 2012
    The strangest thing about "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is how slow its greatness sneaks up on you. John Ford doesn't let his film start out on an exciting note, opting instead to take a more low-key route. Here is a director that knows the Western genre like the back of his hand, and his subtle approach here is admirable yet again. "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is a lot more understated than you might imagine, but I think that's where it succeeds. It's so calm and self-modulated that it throws you off when things get brutal. I'll need to revisit it again later on, but I'm almost positive that this is one of the greatest films out there.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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