The Man who Shot Liberty Valance is my favorite western period, but Shenandoah hold's a personal place in my heart for me. When i was a kid, my dogs had puppies and of course I became very attached to the little guys. The day the last pup was heading to a new home,I walked to the theater in my hometown by myself and watched SHENANDOAH! It's was such a good movie that it helped take the sadness of that day away!
The Man From Laramie was Jimmy's personal favorite.The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is the one that makes it as a classic.How The West Was Won would have been the western with the biggest budget with Jimmy.Winchester 73 would have opened the doors for the adult western and probably introduced the percentage of the profits deal.But my guilty pleasure is one that is forgotten but I don't consider it underwhelming or just going through the motions and that is Night Passage.I love it ! The Tiompkin(if I spelled that right) score,the Colorado locations,the interactions,the action it all jells for me and for others it does not.Everyone is quick to point out that if Mann had directed it how much better it would be.But I'm content with the product of James Neilson who was a t.v.and Disney director.Neilson also directed Jimmy in The Windmill for G.E.Electric and that is a western hard to come by or see.I doubt if Jimmy ever really spoke to Mann after this.He didn't hold a grudge that Fonda worked for Mann right after this with The Tin Star.Fonda didn't hold a grudge that Jimmy went with Ford when Fonda and Ford were on the outs.But I don't think Jimmy ever completely forgave Mann.Jimmy was born for Man Of The West but I certainly can live with old coop in that role.I believe Techirama was a new process used when Night Passage came out,in fact now that I think about it,I know it was.This must have been shot in the autumn of 56 and it is gorgeous.The cinematographer had worked with Jimmy on 13 pictures and it is just beautiful.Mann did not care for the script.Mann did not care for the 10 inches difference in height between Jim and Audie.Or I've read that Mann just did not care for Audie.That's like Ford using the uncle remus Strode clothes and people thinking Ford was trying to get at a darker message about Jimmy.I think Audie was fine and if he had A list actors and the same caliber of director,he was just as good as those around him.Basically you had them sit or bend in there few scenes together anyway.I had a son eight inches taller than me so it doesn't bother me.I love the character actors in this.Flippen,Wilke,Elam,Fix and Olive Carey.Dan Duryea as Whitey is nothing short of outstanding in his half crazy role.You can't get far without a railroad is a humdinger of a foot tappin tune and Stewart loved accordians like he did air-ro-planes,apple pie and the military.There was probably eighteen years difference in there ages in real life.But there is twenty years between my mother and her youngest sister.I like it better than The Tin Star or Mann's Cimarron.If their is no action in the scene,the acting and or script keeps moving forward.This forgotten western is strictly a sentimental piece to me.If Universal didn't break even on it then,eventually their was a profit.I have viewed two or three hundred other westerns that I did not enjoy as much as this one.I've been to the Jimmy Stewart Museum and seen this hat,coat and rifle.Once you have seen them you never forget them.I've stood next to Jimmy and once you did that you never forget it.It may get better than Night Passage.But I can make due quite well with this non Tony Mann western just the way it is.
Michael B. Druxman, you're friends with Michael Ansara? I love him!
Back to the topic... my favorite Stewart western isn't actually a film. It's my favorite old time radio program, The Six Shooter. Stewart was marvelous as Britt Ponset and the quality of the series was top notch.
CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB, closely followed by THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. I remember SHENANDOAH from repeated late-night viewings in the '70s, and that was also a favorite, though I don't generally class Civil War films (except where they take place out West) as 'westerns.' Incidentally, the last time I saw it was more than ten years ago, checking it out on AMC after 20 years...I thought it held up well, but then, at a crucial moment in the story, the film jumped from a place in the middle to the very last scene where the boy returns home during church...this was followed by a very long stretch of dead air space, wherein AMC's embarrassment was absolutely palpable...
In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Destry Rides Again, and Winchester 73 are all favorite westerns of mine, however Mr. Stewart brought sensitivity and depth to each role, so I couldn't choose only one... o.k. if I have to choose I'll say Liberty Valance just because of the layers in the story. What is heroism? etc... I have also enjoyed his role on the radio show western that he was in where he played Brett Ponsit.
There's a good number of films to choose from and I would probably pick The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance for several reasons...a very strong cast (including my favorite, John Wayne), good direction by John Ford and excellent photography and possibly the greatest western villain ever in Lee Marvin as Liberty Valance. But it's been awhile since I've seen all of his westerns so I need to pull them out and start watching them all.
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