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on July 22, 2003
Yep, partners. The film that made The Duke a star was based on a 19th century French classic 'Sweet (or fat, depending on translation) Pudding'. A fact that Ford hid from the studio, claiming it was based on a short story by Haycox.
He had good reason to lie. Had he told the truth one of the greatest Western of all time might never had been made, and therein lies a tale. . .
Ford had a reputation for being a good money maker when he was forced to be 'down to earth' but box office poison whenever he got 'artsy', which was often. Ford was a genius and he admired great writing, bringing Eugene O' Neill to the screen---and bombing. Outside the theater the folks in 'Middle America' just didn't take to "Mourning Becomes Electra". Thus Ford had good reason to keep the true origin of "Stagecoach" under wraps.
In 'Pudding' which takes place during the Franco-Prussian war, a group of strangers board a stagecoach. Among them are two nuns, an aristocrat and his wife, a cynic, and a prostitute nicknamed "Pudding."
They treat her like dirt until they run out of food and discover she's brought some. Later, when a Prussian officer detains and threatens them, unless 'Pudding' pleasures him, even the nuns insist that she should have sex with him. She complies, but has the last laugh--she's got syphillis and has patriotically infected an enemy of France!
All the passengers are again disgusted with her, except for the cynic, who is instead revolted with the hypocrisy of his companions. The prostitute has proven nobler than the nuns and aristocrats. . .
Well, no one was ready to have a prostitute infect Cochise or Geronimo with venereal disease in a 1940's Western, but the film follows the THEME of the classic story closely: We meet, in order of social status, 1. A respectable banker 2. An Army officer's wife 3. A liquor slaesman 4. A shady gambler, 5. A prostitute and 6. A convicted murderer (The Ringo Kid)
By the end, it's all turned upside down and the convicted murderer turns out to be a hero, the banker a crook, etc.
The uniqueness of 'Stagecoach' comes in part from the fact that yes, it is like " Lifeboat" or "The Breakfast Club " -- A bunch of strangers thrust together via outside forces. The Stagecoach is like a space capsule in the wilderness. So neither Gary Cooper nor any other star of the time would come anywhere near it, since it was written as an ENSEMBLE piece for a group of actors, not as a star vehicle.
Little did they know. . .
And if you wonder why Orson Welles studied it so closely, note the fluidity of the shots inside the supposedly cramped stagecoach, (ever wonder where the camera was? ) the incredible stunts, the sense of inpending doom as they go further into the unknown, and--Aw, shucks partner, let's just say this guy could direct!
Wayne is bigger than life, as is the first frame in which we see him.
We hear a shot , the stagecoach stops, and the camera moves in as a tall John Wayne twirls his rifle, Monument Valley framing him in the background.
Best entrance on film till the 1960's when Sean Connery graced us with "Bond, James Bond " at the casino.
John Wayne stands out and steals the film without even trying.
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on May 7, 2003
John Ford's "Stagecoach" is a film that undoubtedly has influenced many action-adventure film directors over the years. One need only watch its dramatic stagecoach chase sequence and compare it to George Miller's "The Road Warrior" (1982) to see some striking similarities. In addition, "Stagecoach" is also famous for being the breakout film for John Wayne who left behind his B Westerns for good after distinguishing himself here as The Ringo Kid.
The story of "Stagecoach" is simple. A lone stagecoach must cross an untamed area populated by hostile Indians. In the stagecoach is an eclectic mix of passengers from various social classes and of various reputations. The heart of the film is the relationship that develops between Wayne's fugitive and Dallas (Claire Trevor), a woman with a scandalous past. These two individuals are arguably the two low rungs on the social standing ladder amongst the film's characters. Yet, when all the chips are placed on the table, it is The Ringo Kid and Dallas who prove to be the most steadfast and dependable. Needless to say, both leads are great. Trevor in particular is the embodiment of 1930's glamour Hollywood.
If there's any one thing that people remember after watching "Stagecoach," it is the amazing chase sequence with the pursuing Indians. It is a marvel of early cinema filmmaking technique that still manages to get the blood pumping in the present day. The sequence is literally a film storyboard come to life and a testament to the notion that action sequences do not succeed in and of themselves, but succeed when carefully planned out and competently executed. This is a timeless lesson that many current filmmakers should take to heart when putting together their films
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on August 1, 2003
Before 1939, a young actor named John Wayne had been starring in b-movie Westerns for years. The western genre wasn't taken very seriously, and neither was the young, sauntering cowboy who starred in them. Stagecoach changed all that. Director John Ford knew talent when he saw it, and with this film one of the greatest alliance/friendships in Hollywood history was formed--that of John Wayne and John Ford. Out of this memorable alliance several wonderful films came, but this was the first.
Shot in Utah's beautiful Monument Valley, Stagecoach follows the adventures of a group of unlikely traveling companions as they cross the stage route in an effort to stay clear of Geronimo and his band. Along the way, the group picks up the Ringo kid (Wayne), a confirmed killer. As the journey progresses, the group's true colors come forth, a young prostitute who was driven from her home (played by Claire Trevor) becomes the true heroine, and the stuck-up aristocratic woman, the banker, and the whiskey peddler are forced to learn a valuable lesson--that true inner character is far more important than social status.
The movie itself is a masterpiece, from the brilliant storyline to the climactic ending with the Ringo Kid's battle in the street. The cinematics are spectacular (especially for that time), and Ford's directing is flawless. There have been many, many Westerns since this one (a great deal of them starring John Wayne), but no Western has ever changed the face of the motion picture industry like Stagecoach did.
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on October 24, 2007
Stagecoach is a classic John Wayne western.the basic plot of the story
is this:a motley group of 9 people end up on a Stagecoach
together,which must somehow make it through Hostile Apach Indian
territory.for a movie made in 1939,this movie is very
good.actually,it's very good even by today's standards.there are lots
of thrilling action sequences,as well as some quiet dramatic
moments.the acting is top notch,as is the direction.the movie is
visually very striking,no small feat,considering it is in black and
white.even the dramatic sequences are somehow compelling.Even if you
don't like John Wayne,or westerns in general,you will like this film.i
highly recommend it. 5/5
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on August 11, 2002
STAGECOACH is a film that is great viewed once, but even better watched repeatedly. Although the story it tells is a simple one, it is told in a deceptively simple manner. In fact, it is a heavily nuanced, deeply complex film, and it is only on repeated viewings that the complexity is revealed. For instance, if one rewatches the film focusing on just one element, such as the physical distance and placement of each character throughout the film, one realizes the degree to which John Ford is the master of his craft. This is one of those rare films that, if watched frequently enough, shows you how films are constructed and made. In fact, "Masterpiece" is almost too weak a word for a work of this quality. It is almost more "Blueprint" for future films than merely a Masterpiece.
STAGECOACH is sometimes regarded as a John Wayne vehicle, but nothing could be further from the truth. He does manage a stunning debut in an "A" picture (his extensive previous work had been in "B" oaters), but this is an ensemble picture, the strength of the film deriving from the performances of a number of important characters, and not from the performance of merely one. Had Wayne been great, but John Carradine and Donald Meek and Berton Churchill and Andy Devine and Thomas Mitchell not turned in equally as compelling performances, STAGECOACH would have been only a shadow of the film it is. Although this is not a John Wayne vehicle, he does benefit from two visually stunning moments. The first is the marvelous close up when we see the Ringo Kid for the first time. The second is his dive to the ground at the end of the film as he takes on his enemies.
STAGECOACH is a nearly flawless film. The cinematography is extraordinary. Monument Valley, which Ford used here for the first time but which is now forever associated with his films, provides a perfect backdrop to the story. As mentioned before, the large ensemble cast is flawless. The script is classic. The story utilizes the classic formula of a journey as symbolizing the changes in characters as the stagecoach goes on. The music is memorable. This is easily one of the most imitated movies in history, and watching it one can easily see why.
This movie also features one of the most famous stunts in the history of film. During the climatic chase scene across the long desert plain, an Indian rides up and jumps off his horse onto the lead team of horses on the stagecoach. John Wayne shoots him before he is able to rein in the horses and stop the coach, but the leads have fallen and are trailing the ground. So, John Wayne apparently jumps from the coach to the second team of horses, and then from them to the lead horses, where he recovers the leads. In fact, the same person, Yakima Canutt, did both stunts. This sequence is so famous that it has been spliced into dozens of movies over the years. When they filmed it Yakima first did the Indian stunt, and then dressed as John Wayne and then saved the stage. It is on the basis of this as well as his later stunt work that Yakima Canutt is considered one of the great stunt artists ever.
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on May 14, 2003
I am sorry to say that if it's true Orson Welles watched "Stagecoach" time and time again before shooting "Citizen Kane" he got it all wrong!. I always seem to fall sleep watching the later... and if I have to choose wich one to see again it will be 99 against 1.
"Stagecoach" are what film legends are made of. Without films like that Hollywood would probably have bankrupted long ago...
And for once justice is made giving the Oscar for best supporting actor to one who deserves it... (Actually all the characters are Great in therir roles).
If you do enjoy movies and westerns in particular you will like it! If not better stop watching movies and go fishing or whatever...
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 14, 2011
United Artists presents "STAGECOACH" (1939) - (96 min/B&W) -- Starring: Claire Trevor, John Wayne, Andy Devine, John Carradine & Thomas Mitchell

Directed by John Ford

Director John Ford combined action, drama, humor, and well-drawn characters in the story of a stagecoach set to leave Tonto, New Mexico for a distant settlement in Lordsburg, with a diverse group of passengers on board. Dallas 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. Gatewood (Berton Churchill) is a crooked banker who needs to get out of town. Buck (Andy Devine) is the hayseed stage driver, and Sheriff Curley 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 none have ever improved on its formula.

Although there were Westerns before it, Stagecoach quickly became a template for all movie Westerns to shoot for.

Oscar Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Mitchell) & Best Music Scoring.

Oscar Nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (John Ford), Best Cinematography (Black & White), Art Direction & Editing

John Wayne: The Duke - one of the most recognizable people on the planet - a true mega-star in film

* Special footnote: -- John Ford's first sound Western, and his first in that genre in 13 years. Westerns had fallen out favor with the coming of sound, as it was tricky to record on location. This was the first of many films that John Ford filmed in Monument Valley, Arizona. Others were: My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Wagon Master, Rio Grande, The Searchers, Sergeant Rutledge and his last western, Cheyenne Autumn.

** Asked why, in the climactic chase scene, the Indians didn't simply shoot the horses to stop the stagecoach, director John Ford replied, "Because that would have been the end of the movie."

1. John Ford [aka: John Martin Feeney] Director)
Date of Birth: 1 February 1894, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Date of Death: 31 August 1973, Palm Desert, California

2. Claire Trevor
Date of Birth: 8 March 1910 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 8 April 2000 - Newport Beach, California

3. John Wayne aka: Marion Robert Morrison)
Date of Birth: 26 May 1907 - Winterset, Iowa
Date of Death: 11 June 1979 - Los Angeles, California

4. Andy Devine
Date of Birth: 7 October 1905 - Flagstaff, Arizona
Date of Death: 18 February 1977 - Orange, California

5. John Carradine
Date of Birth: 5 February 1906 - New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death: 27 November 1988 - Milan, Italy

6. Thomas Mitchell
Date of Birth: 11 July 1892, Elizabeth, New Jersey
Date of Death: 17 December 1962, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California

7. Louise Platt
Date of Birth: 3 August 1915 - Stamford, Connecticut
Date of Death: 6 September 2003 - Greenport, New York

8. George Bancroft
Date of Birth: 30 September 1882 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Date of Death: 2 October 1956 - Santa Monica, California

9. Donald Meek
Date of Birth: 14 July 1878 - Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Date of Death: 18 November 1946 - Los Angeles, California

10.Berton Churchill
Date of Birth: 9 December 1876 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date of Death: 10 October 1940 - New York City, New York

11.Tim Holt
Date of Birth: 5 February 1919 - Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California
Date of Death: 15 February 1973 - Shawnee, Oklahoma

12.Tom Tyler [aka: Vincent Markowski]
Date of Birth: 9 August 1903 - Port Henry, New York
Date of Death: 3 May 1954 - Hamtramck, Michigan

13. Yakima Canutt [aka: Enos Edward Canutt]
Date of Birth: 29 November 1895 - Colfax, Washington
Date of Death: 24 May 1986 - North Hollywood, California

Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]

Total Time: 96 min on DVD ~ United Artists ~ (October 29, 1997)
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon July 20, 2010
I will not go through much of the story as that is why you are buying the movie. Alternatively, of course, like me you just want to see what they did with the movie and the Criterion extras. Just having a newfangled 46" TV helps in its self.

Looks like several passengers are going to Lordsburg for their own various reasons. Like an Agatha Christie movie, we are introduced to the major players in the story. On the way, we get to know the passengers a little better. In this version, Ringo Kid (John Wayne) is picked up on the way instead of being intruded with the original passengers. John Wayne actually inters with what is now his signature close-up. An Apache uprising threatens the stagecoach. Yet there is a lot more to the film after this Arrowing incident.

Be sure to go through the DVD extras including the voice over commentary. Recorded exclusively for the Criterion collection in 2009, the commentary features film historian and Western scholar Jim Kites (Horizons West). He is a little wordy in his commentary but he does pick up the high points. Moreover, sometimes you need somebody to tell you when your shoe was untied I used to get him to tell me what I was looking at and missing. Even after this commentary, you need to watch the supplement named "Dreaming of Jeanie".

On a different note, I saw Monument Valley on a vacation. Therefore, I can tell that they keep driving back and forth in a small aria on their imaginary trip to Lordsburg.

I am and new fan of Ernest Haycox and read some of his books. However, I missed "Stage to Lordsburg". It is now on my list to read. After watching the Criterion Blu-ray versions where they pointed out the differences between the book and film I want to read more.
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on February 6, 2003
John Ford is one of my three all time favorite directors, and I find it amazing that I haven't seen more of his films (such as stagecoach). Once again I was blown away by the casual technical mastery he displays, it's easy to see how this film was very influential on Welles and his decisions on how he wanted Toland to shoot Citizen Kane. There are many scenes with interior low angles--you see the cieling--the use of shadow and the black and white pallate is nothing short of breathtaking, and the multiplane compositions (and often deep focus) are outstanding as well. I love the iconic track in on John Wayne in the beginning (I thought to myself "that single shot created the greatest on screen legend yet met"), and the restrained camera movement, so that each time it does move its impact is all the greater (Ford's philosophy was that you shouldn't move the camera around unless there was damn good reason to). I love the tilt down of the whore(?) throwing Luke another shotgun, beautiful composition here especially in the final high angle of the shot, looking down at Luke in the near background with the streetlight in the foreground. I also think the way the final shootout was handled was great, John Wayne diving, gets off one shot, cut to Dallas we hear THREE more shots, and assume the worst, Then Luke comes walking into the bar... and so on; brilliant editing. The part I liked least was the Indian attack, simply because it seemed out of place in what had been a hundred percent ensemble character drama up until that point, however the Indian attack itself is one of the finest action set pieces this side of Ben-Hur, it just seemed out of place in the film; beautifully done.
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on December 11, 2002
"Stagecoach" is a landmark film in so many ways. While probably not the very best western ever created this stunning production is memorable as being one of the first of the genre where just as much emphasis was placed on character development as action. It also marked the breakthrough role (and first collaboration with frequent director Ford) for a young John Wayne after a decade of appearing in countless B films, and the first time that director John Ford used his most favourite location of Monument Valley, Utah for shooting which gives this film an almost out of this world ,mythical quality.
Produced in the magical year of 1939 "Stagecoach" more than holds its own with all the other great classics produced in that year. Honoured with two Academy Awards for its musical score and the beautiful performance by Thomas Mitchell as the drunken doctor travelling on the stagecoach the film tells a very simple story of the intertwined lives of a group of people travelling through dangerous Indian territory on a stagecoach and how each effects the others lives in different ways. Ford assembled a sterling cast of performers here and apart from Wayne as the wrongly convicted outlaw the Ringo Kid we have the before mentioned Thomas Mitchell (in the same year that he played Scarlett O'Hara's father in "Gone With The Wind"), as the drunken doctor who is forced to deliver a baby on route, Claire Trevor in a superb performance as the "scarlett lady" Dallas, run out of town for her morals who forms an attachment to Wayne's character , Andy Devine as the coach driver and John Carradine as the shady gambler Hatfield. Donald Meek also registers as the fumbling spirits salesman who keeps having his samples raided by Mitchell. Louise Platt also does some memorable work as the very pregnant Lucy Mallory, travelling on the stagecoach to join her husband who gives birth during the journey and with help from Dallas learns a good lesson in understanding and tolerance of other's failings. "B" movie cowboy veteran Tom Tyler also makes a rare appearance as the Ringo Kid's nemesis Luke Plummer who is involved in a shoot out with Ringo at the finale.
"Stagecoach" contains many memorable moments, the most outstanding without a doubt being the lengthy and cleverly filmed Indian attack on route which contains some of the most amazing stunt work seen in films up till then. It is the work of stuntman genius Yakima Canutt who doubled for John Wayne in all the complicated action sequnces such as when the Ringo Kid takes control of the horses leading the stagecoach when it is attacked. These stunt scenes became re-used footage in countless westerns over the succeeding years so brilliant they were and are still considered.
While not being a huge fan of the western genre I do love this film for its intelligent writing and attention to character development often not seen in alot of westerns. The beautiful location photography adds a tremendous boost to the overall look of the film and really sets the mood for the whole piece. It is such a landmark film in so many ways already mentioned however for sheer entertainment value for those that like action adventure tales it is unsurpassed. I dont feel you even need to be a western lover to enjoy it so well crafted are the characters and the action story that they are involved in. For stirring western excitement you can't go past John Ford's memorable classic "Stagecoach".
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