Saturday, June 9, 2007

Stagecoach (1939)

Directed by John Ford. Starring John Wayne, Claire Trevor, and Thomas Mitchell.

While I like Westerns, I've never considered myself a fan, usually preferring the recent takes on the genre to the old canon of favorites. However, I can't help but love this prototype for the classical Hollywood Western, mostly because it has everything that makes a good Western so entertaining without any extraneous material, done with high energy and style. The story involves a group of passengers on a stagecoach trip in the Old West, including a pregnant woman, an ex-Confederate gentleman, a lawman, a drunken doctor, and a hooker with a heart of gold. Soon, they're joined by a latecomer, an outlaw called The Ringo Kid, in the role that made John Wayne a superstar. As the journey progresses, the passengers come into conflict at times, and band together at others, particularly during a still-exciting chase scene. The reason the film still works, even after all its imitators should have stolen its thunder, is because of Ford's assured hand, the purity of the storytelling, and above all the performers, especially the practically embryonic Wayne and Thomas Mitchell as the doctor.

No comments: