How come, that the secret of making movies which could be THAT good, seems to be lost? No matter how long you look, you will not find in the contemporary cinema a movie which would be so smart, funny and tragic in the same time as this one. Well, ladies and gentlemen, behold here one of the most legendary masterpieces of western - and three giants of American cinema: James Stewart, John Wayne and Lee Marvin.
This is a highly symbolical story about the barbary being beaten away by the civilisation, the crime being reduced by law and the chaos of wilderness being replaced by order. The symbol of barbary, crime, chaos and violence is a jubilant, agressive, vile and primitive bandit, called Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). He is so horrible that almost strangely appealing, a force of nature which can fascinate - until we actually see his victims... He will be confronted by a young lawyer (James Stewart), who came to the Far West trying to establish a law practice, but who, in a lawless town, will end washing dishes.
Now, James Stewart was not a whimp (he actually ended the WWII as general of aviation - the only Hollywoodian actor who went as far in military) but in this movie he portrays the total opposite of Liberty Valance - he is civilised, nonviolent, polite, reserved (although well spoken), in fact he seems a little dull compared to the bandit. Until the day when he grabs that gun and (still wearing an apron!) walks to face Liberty Valance...
But the actor who is the reason for which this movie is such a masterpiece is the Duke himself - John Wayne. This is one of his most important, most complex and possibly the most tragic roles. His character represents what we have to loose when the heroic and barbaric times end. We gain civilisation, peace, law and order, but we lose also something - and although finally we get a fair deal, it is still painful. Even if you hate John Wayne, you will feel for his character in this movie - and you will be impressed by his acting.
The story is not linear - the tale of this one gunfight and its consequences is told twice, and before that we are going from one time to another. The plot is watertight - everything falls in place at the end with the precision of a Swiss clock mechanism. And the final punchline of this partly tragic but finally very funny film will simply blow you away!
This is a TREASURE of the world cinema - a classic to see and then see again.