Saturday, February 27, 2010

119. Stagecoach (1939)

Running Time: 96 minutes
Directed By: John Ford
Written By: Ernest Haycox, Dudley Nichols
Main Cast: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell, George Bancroft, Louise Platt, Andy Devine, Donald Meek

Sidenote: The review for Stella Dallas is up and can be found by clicking here. On another note; I mentioned the other day that the Dodsworth review would be on the way soon. Well scratch that, as the status of the film on Netflix, has gone from "shipping today" back to a "very long wait", so who really knows when that'll get done. Also, no changing news on the status of Angels with Dirty Faces.


John Wayne swaggers into the pages of the '1001' book and John Ford follows him, with the director's second entry in the book (following Judge Priest). This was a pretty good western, which really picks up most of it's steam in the final thirty minutes.

The story takes place in the town of Tonto, a town which is going through a high degree of unrest, due to the recent word that Geronimo and the Apache's are afoot and raising cain. When the Marshall, Curly, gets word that the Ringo Kid (Wayne) has busted out of prison and likely headed for Lordsburg to confront Luke Plummer, a man who killed his brother and father, he jumps at the opportunity to bring the Kid back to justice and nab him once more. He summons a stagecoach driver named Buck to take him through Dry Fork, Apache Wells and finally into Lordsburg, despite the threat that the Apache's raise throughout those parts. Along for the ride are several other men and women, all for their own reasons. First off, we have Dr. Boone (Mitchell), the town drunk and a prostitute name Dallas (Trevor), both of whom are being kicked out of the town. Also, we have Mrs. Lucy Mallory (Platt), who plans to meet her cavalry officer husband in Dry Fork. Also along for the trip are Samuel Peacock (Meek), a whiskey salesman, Hatfield (Carradine), the town gambler and Henry Gatewood (Churchill), the banker in Tonto. So the stage is set for a wild ride when these personalities are stuffed into a tiny stagecoach, all for their own reasons and headed through Apache country.

The trip barely gets started when the coach comes across the Ringo Kid and Marshall Curly takes him along for the ride, as they continue their trek. The plot slows down considerably at this point, once all hands are on deck, as the gang arrives at Dry Fork, only to find out that the calvary has moved on to Apache Wells. They continue to Apache Wells, to find that the cavalry has, yet again, moved on to Lordsburg. While staying at Apache Wells, Mrs. Mallory faints and when Doc Boone is urged to sober up and help the young lady, it all ends up with the birth of her child, a baby girl. Also along the way, a romance is sparked between the Ringo Kid and Dallas, as two souls who no one wants, a fugitive and a prostitute, although the Kid doesn't know about her past. Eventually the climax comes and the volume is cranked up to a full blast level, with outstanding stunts and plenty of tension.

This was really a fantastic cast, as everyone involved turned in outstanding performances and played their part to keep the story going, even in the down times of the film. I love films where an random group of strangers are thrown together and forced to coexist. It usually seems to add an element of conflict and tension and keeps you gripped, as you just know at some point, somewhere the shit is going to hit the fan. The chase scene is where this film really turns into a "must see" picture, as it is truly an unbelievable showcase of action and stunts, especially considering the era in which the film was made. It's full of what every chase scene needs to have: great stunts, action, excitement, suspense and just plain awesomeness. From there we're not done, as the suspense and tension are laid on for a second round, as the whole gang reaches Lordsburg and I still realize we got the showdown between Plummer and the Kid to deal with. If they could've kept the excitement up throughout the whole movie, instead of picking it up near the end, then this would've been a blockbuster and a masterpiece. However, the middle segments just seem a bit too dull and "nothing happening" for me.

RATING: 6.5/10 Despite a bit of dullness, the picture was still really enjoyable and fun to watch and I can definitely see this one growing on me, as time passes.

NEXT UP: Zangiku Monogatari...or, The Story of the Late Chrysanthemums...I'll be watching this one on YouTube. I'll be out of town tomorrow, so if I do get to this one tomorrow, it won't be until later at night.

February 26, 2010 11:58pm

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