Tag Archives: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Movie Wisdom – James Stewart Edition

25 Jun

My wife and stepdaughter are in Lowell, Massachusetts for a student conference. Therefore, I am holding down the fort. This includes keeping the dog fed and the house standing. It also gives me the opportunity to spend some time with my parents.

Tonight, my dad and I watched Bend of the River, a Western starring James Stewart and Rock Hudson in one of his early roles. It is a pretty good movie with a bunch of character actors from the 1950s. Jay C. Flippen, Harry Morgan, Frances Bavier and Royal Dano are just a few. It is also the first time I have ever seen Stepin Fetchit, a comedian who caused controversy by the racial stereotypes of his on-screen persona.

After watching the movie, I decided to look for movie wisdom in the films of James Stewart. After all, I do not have much else to do.

From Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Liberty’s too precious a thing to be buried in books.

Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light.

Don’t miss the wonders that surround you.

From It’s a Wonderful Life

No man is a failure who has friends.

Youth is wasted on the wrong people.

From Rope

We all do strange things in our childhood.

From The Stratton Story

A man has to know where he’s going.

From Broken Arrow

To talk of peace is not hard. To live it is very hard.

You should always wipe your hands on your arm after eating.

It is not easy to change, but sometimes it is required.

From Bend of the River

There’s a difference between men and apples.

Never mix marriage with gambling. Percentage is all against it.

From Rear Window

Nothing has caused the human race so much trouble as intelligence.

Sometimes it’s worse to stay than it is to run.

From The Man from Laramie

Everybody should have a place to remember and feel they belong to.

From Two Rode Together

Sometimes it takes a lot more courage to live than it does to die.

Well, there are some men you just can’t trust to stay where you put ’em.

I can tell when a man walks through that door whether he prefers blondes or brunettes, drinks whiskey or beer, plays blackjack or poker, is a cheapskate or a high roller.

From The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Courage can be purchased at yon’ tavern.

From How the West Was Won

There ain’t much glory in trompin’ behind a plow.

It don’t pay to eat too much on an empty stomach.

There ain’t much glory in lookin’ at a man with his guts hanging out.

From Cheyenne Autumn

Now, as I understand it, a mademoiselle is a madam who ain’t quite made it yet – only younger and friskier.

From Shenandoah

When you love a woman without likin’ her, the night can be long and cold, and contempt comes up with the sun.

A man who eats with his hat on is going nowhere in a hurry.

From The Flight of the Phoenix

Insurance companies move in mysterious ways. Much like God… only far less generous.

From The Rare Breed

You cannot live with dreams.

A man in love is neither lord nor master of himself.

While beauty is skin deep, meanness runs all the way through.

From Bandolero!

There things a man ought never do – spit in church, scratch his self in front of his ma, and pick his nose.

 

 

 

 

Burt Bacharach – One of the Coolest Cats Around

14 Mar

This week, we saw Burt Bacharach perform with the Nashville Symphony. It was a great show filled with the numerous hits that he has written. Unfortunately, we did not get pictures that are good enough to put on the blog. Instead, I will use this picture.Raindrops

That is the first picture that popped up when I Googled “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” my favorite Burt Bacharach song. It is the one I went to the concert to hear, and, luckily, he sang it. At 87 years old, he left most of the singing to a trio sitting by his piano. They were no Dionne Warwick, but they did a tremendous job.

As I said, he sang the song I wanted to hear. Most people know it as the song from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I know it as the song that, for some reasons, fascinated me when I was a kid. I have been told that I sang it all the time. That is strange considering that I still have not seen that movie in its entirety.

Speaking of Westerns, I learned something that the concert. Burt Bacharach wrote “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” which was not used in the movie of the same name. I need to look through the blog archives to see if I wrote an examination of that movie. If not, then I need to do that.

Before the show, a friend of mine kept kidding around and telling me that I should ask Burt about Angie Dickinson, his ex-wife. My friend is a big fan of Angie Dickinson. I did not get the chance to ask that question, but I once wrote a post about her and a few other actresses. My friend should read it.

In my mind, Burt Bacharach has always been the epitome of cool. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was one of the coolest cats around. After seeing him in concert, we realized that he is still one of the coolest cats around.

BBC, Movies and Me

22 Jul

There are a ton of lists about the greatest things that ever were. Books. TV shows. Cars. It goes on and on. Recently, BBC added to the list of lists by announcing the 100 greatest American movies of all time. According to the article, film critics from around the world provided their opinions.BBC

To create this post, I decided to list the movies I have seen and include my favorite line from each one.

97. Gone With the Wind – Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn96. The Dark Knight

91. ET: The Extraterrestrial – I just hope we don’t wake up on Mars or something surrounded by millions of little squashy guys.

90. Apocalypse Now – Charlie don’t surf!

84. Deliverance – Sometimes you have to lose yourself ‘fore you can find anything.

82. Raiders of the Lost Ark – Bad dates.

78. Schindler’s List – There will be generations because of what you did.

76. The Empire Strikes Back – Never tell me the odds.

75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind – Einstein was probably one of them.

74. Forrest Gump – Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep-fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.

73. Network – I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

66. Red River – Well, I don’t like to see things goin’ good or bad. I like ’em in between.

65. The Right Stuff – Hey, Ridley, ya got any Beeman’s?

61. Eyes Wide Shut – Life goes on. It always does, until it doesn’t.

56. Back to the Future – I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it.

55. The Graduate – Plastics.

52. The Wild Bunch – We all dream of being a child again, even the worst of us. Perhaps the worst most of all.

46. It’s a Wonderful Life – Ah, youth is wasted on the wrong people.

45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – Nothing’s too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance.

42. Dr. Strangelove – Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.

41. Rio Bravo – If I ever saw a man holdin’ a bull by the tail, you’re it.

38. Jaws – Well it proves one thing, Mr. Hooper. It proves that you wealthy college boys don’t have the education enough to admit when you’re wrong.

36. Star Wars – Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

34. The Wizard of Oz – That’s a horse of a different color!

28. Pulp Fiction – There’s a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you.”

21. Mulholland Drive – I got the pool, she got the pool-man.

20. Goodfellas – Jimmy was the kind of guy that rooted for bad guys in the movies.

16. McCabe and Mrs. Miller – I got poetry in me!

14. Nashville – Who do you think is running Congress? Farmers? Engineers? Teachers? Businessmen? No, my friends. Congress is run by lawyers. A lawyer is trained for two things and two things only. To clarify – that’s one. And to confuse – that’s the other.

13. North by Northwest – In the world of advertising, there’s no such thing as a lie. There’s only expedient exaggeration.

10. The Godfather Part II – If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.

9. Casablanca – Everybody comes to Rick’s.

5. The Searchers – That’ll be the day.

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey – It can only be attributable to human error.

2. The Godfather – Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

1. Citizen Kane – Those are the only terms anybody ever knows – his own.

That makes 35 out of 100. Looks like I need to watch a few more.

The Many Names of John Wayne

24 Jan

The other day, I wrote about a John Wayne movie, and Andrew over at Have Bag, Will Travel had an interesting question. Of all the roles that John Wayne played, which character had the best name? With that in mind, I went in search for the answer.

John Wayne is credited with over 180 roles, and that means some limitations had to be placed on the experiment.3 Godfathers

First, I kicked out the movies that I have not seen. Honestly, I did not feel qualified to determine the strength of a character’s name if I did not know the strengths of the character.

Next, I threw out the times that the Duke played a real person. The purpose of this exercise was to find the best name created by some writer. Counting the given name of a real person is not that interesting or challenging.

On top of that, I decided not to count the times when he played someone named John. It is a total lack of creativity to have someone play a character and use their own name.

With the parameters set, the search commenced, and I was immediately met with disappointment. You would be surprised at how many times John Wayne played someone named Mike. Now, I am not trying to disparage all of the Mike’s in the world, but John Wayne does not strike me as a Mike. This list has to consist of names that fit the actor.

Oh yeah, there is one more thing. I stayed away from names that sound like the alter egos of superheroes. Joe January is interesting but also corny. Matt Masters is not much better. Unfortunately, I had to be consistent and not count Ethan Edwards.

The following names stuck out for several reasons. They fit the actor; they sound original and unique; and they are cool.

10. Tom Doniphon is a great name for a great character in a great movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. However, it loses points for not being the best name in the movie. How can you beat a name like Liberty Valance? For that matter, Ransom Stoddard is also a better name.

9. Taw Jackson wanted to get revenge by hijacking The War Wagon. The name is unique, but I cannot get around the fact that a taw is connected to the game of marbles. I never understood the fascination with marbles.

8. Rockwell Torrey got In Harm’s Way and turned the Pacific tide in World War II. He won the battle but lost a leg. The name is good, but there is a weakness. When I hear it, the Saturday Evening Post pops into my mind.

7. Cole Thornton is one of my favorite John Wayne character names. It also comes from a script that was turned into several movies. In my mind, El Dorado was the best of the bunch. It ranks seventh because it has less syllables than some of those ranked higher.

6. Chance Buckman fought oil fires, flew airplanes and was based on a real person. Hellfighters is one of my favorite non-western John Wayne movies. The name ranks sixth because I like Chance better than Cole.

5. Cord McNally was a Union officer who ended up at Old Tucson Studios. Rio Lobo is one of those movies that were all made from the same script. It is the worst of the bunch, but the character name has four syllables.

4. Jacob McCandles was also known as Big Jake. He was rich. He was tough. He had a town named after him. Also, everyone thought he was dead.

3. Nathan Cutting Brittles ranks this high because a character that has three names should rank higher than characters that have two names. Besides, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is one of the John Ford cavalry pictures.

2. George Washington McLintock is a historical name and provides the title for the movie, McLintock. The town is also named for this character. Heck, the name dominates the entire movie.

1. Robert Marmaduke Hightower was one of the 3 Godfathers. Honestly, how can you beat a name like that? That is a five dollar name if I ever saw one.

Well, there is my list. I am sure there are other John Wayne fans who have their own ideas of what this list should look like. Let me know what you think.

 

 

Movie Wisdom – John Qualen Edition

29 May

I like watching old movies, and, as a watcher of old movies, I see the same actors show up time after time. These are not the ones who are famous and play in the leading roles. These are the ones who play in the supporting roles. They have familiar faces, but they do not have familiar names.

John Qualen was one of those actors. He was in tons of movies and television shows. In almost all of them, he had a Scandinavian accent. That is pretty good for someone who grew up in Illinois. In honor of John Qualen and other character actors, I have decided to continue the “Movie Wisdom” series with his movies.John Qualen

In the past, I have searched for nuggets of wisdom from the movies of different actors. There have been many, but the search for wisdom in the films of Burt Reynolds and Don Knotts are the most popular. I have also covered Kevin Costner, Steve McQueen, Ellen Barkin, Don Johnson, Paul Newman, Jodie Foster, Tommy Lee Jones, Sheb Wooley, Lee Marvin, and George Peppard.

The rules are always the same. I must have seen the movie, but it does not matter which character spoke the line.

From The Grapes of Wrath

I wouldn’t pray just for a old man that’s dead, ’cause he’s all right. If I was to pray, I’d pray for folks that’s alive and don’t know which way to turn.

Seems like the government’s got more interest in a dead man than a live one.

Takes no nerve to do something, ain’t nothin’ else you can do.

Maybe there ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue, they’s just what people does.

From Knute Rockne All American

Anyone who follows the truth in his heart never makes a mistake.

From The Devil and Daniel Webster

A man can always change things. That’s what makes him different from the barnyard critters.

From Casablanca

I never make plans that far ahead.

If we stop breathing, we’ll die.

Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.

From The Searchers

Figure a man’s only good for one oath at a time.

I don’t believe in surrenders.

From North to Alaska

A bullet through the head is always the best cure for love.

From Two Rode Together

Well, there are some men you just can’t trust to stay where you put ’em.

You know, sometimes it takes a lot more courage to live than it does to die.

I can tell when a man walks through that door whether he prefers blondes or brunettes, drinks whiskey or beer, plays blackjack or poker, is a cheapskate or a high roller.

From The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Courage can be purchased at yon’ tavern!

From Cheyenne Autumn

Does it ever matter who fires the first shot?

Now, as I understand it, a mademoiselle is a madam who ain’t quite made it yet – only younger and friskier.

From A Big Hand for the Little Lady

There’s a whole world waitin’ for you out there.

That’s a bargain all right, but a bargain ain’t a bargain unless it’s something you need.

Now look, mister, the first rule of the game of poker, whether you’re playing eastern or western rules, or the kind they play at the North Pole, is put up or shut up!

 

The Makers of Legend

11 Mar

This semester, I am teaching Expansion of the United States and had my students read The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend by Glenn Frankel, an excellent study of how a historical event can get turned into a movie.

The book is chronological, and the reader can see how the story continues to evolve as different people use it for different reasons. I will not go into great detail, but, as the story gets passed on, those who tell it do so with various reasons. In the end, the story barely resembles the reality, and the reality, to many, would be more interesting.

I chose this book because I want my students to know that there is more to history than what happened in the past. History is also about who interprets it and when they do that. I believe it is as much about the people looking into the past as it is about people who lived in the past.

One of my favorite movie lines comes from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. When Senator Ransom Stoddard finished telling reporters about his life and what happened in the town of Shinbone, Maxwell Scott, the newspaper editor, rips up the notes and throws them into the fire.Print the Legend

Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?

Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

That line conveys the difficulty that historians of the American West, or any other history, faces when trying to find out what happened way back then. Dime novels. Newspapers. Journals. Diaries. Inaccuracies and embellishments can be found everywhere.

However, it is not just those who record history who cause problems. Those who took part in history do the same. In the book I mentioned, the story was being told incorrectly from almost the beginning, and those incorrect accounts were coming from people who were there.

This brings me to a video I stumbled upon while scanning through YouTube. It is called The American West of John Ford and should be watched by anyone who likes the Western genre. John Wayne, James Stewart and Henry Fonda reminisce about working with Ford and take turns interviewing him.

During those interviews, all of them freely admit that Ford was not interested in depicting historical accuracy. He was interested in telling stories within a Western backdrop. He used the genre to study the human condition. However, there was one part of the documentary that got my attention.

While talking about My Darling Clementine, about the actions at the OK Corral, Ford said that Wyatt Earp had personally told him what happened at the gunfight and drew a map for him. In the movie, Ford depicted the gunfight just as Earp had described. According to Earp, a stagecoach came by, and he used it for cover to get closer to those he was after.

I have read a ton about Wyatt Earp and the OK Corral. I have been to Tombstone, Arizona and stood where the gunfight took place. At no point have I ever heard about a stagecoach being used as cover. It could have happened, but that would be a new take on it for me. Hopefully, a historian can tell me that I am wrong, but I do not think a stagecoach had anything to do with it.

So, who are the makers of legend? Was it John Ford, a director who admitted to not caring about historical accuracy? Was it Wyatt Earp who could have embellished a story to impress his Hollywood friends? Was it the director of the documentary who included that story in his movie? Is it me for writing about it?

Movie Wisdom – Lee Marvin Edition

11 Feb

The other day, my dad and I watched a Western that I had never seen before. Seven Men From Now starred Randolph Scott as the hero and Lee Marvin as one of the various villains. After watching the film, I read that John Wayne produced the film and planned on starring in it. However, John Ford wanted him to be in The Searchers.

As it turns out, this was a good move for everyone. John Wayne played one of films most iconic characters in a movie that many feel is the greatest Western ever made. Randolph Scott credited Seven Men From Now as the movie that revitalized his career.

That is a lot of information to throw out without writing about what is really on my mind. Lee Marvin was great in the movie and watching it brought to mind the other great films he was in. That means that we are now going to explore the movies of Lee Marvin to see what words of wisdom we can glean from them.Lee Marvin 2

From The Caine Mutiny

Ninety-nine percent of everything we do is strict routine. Only one percent requires creative intelligence.

From Bad Day at Black Rock

I believe a man is as big as what he’s seeking.

Somebody’s always looking for something in this part of the West. To the historian it’s the Old West, to the book writer it’s the Wild West, to the businessman it’s the Undeveloped West.

It’s gonna take an awful lot of whiskey to wash out your guts.

From Seven Men From Now

A man oughta be able to take care of his woman.

From Raintree County

Greatness? Ha! If that great philosopher, Socrates, were living today, he’d be reduced to sitting on a cracker barrel, chewing tobacco. That’s what America does for greatness.

War is the most monstrous of man’s illusions. Any idea worth anything is worth not fighting for.

The home-grown tomatoes are always best.

From The Comancheros

I got one rule: never go to bed without makin’ a profit.

From The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Credit is cheap.

Courage can be purchased at yon’ tavern!

As for you, Old Man: go West and grow young with the country!

From The Dirty Dozen

I never went in for embroidery, just results.

From The Big Red One

Surviving is the only glory in war.

From Death Hunt

Well, I just figure any man who risks his neck to save a dog’s life isn’t going to kill someone for gold teeth.

All of that and more can be learned by watching more Lee Marvin movies.