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The story about a cross-section of troubled passengers unraveling under the strain of Indian attack contains all of Ford's incomparable storytelling trademarks--particularly swift action and social introspection--underscored by the painterly landscape of Monument Valley.
And what an ensemble of actors: Thomas Mitchell (who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as the drunken doctor), Claire Trevor, Donald Meek, Andy Devine, and the magical John Carradine.
Combine those and other fine actors w/John ford and mix in a runaway stagecoach scene, an Apache attack led by Geronimo, the US Cavalry to the rescue, a suspenseful gunfight, and the hero riding off with his lady and you've got great cinema..of the top ten Westerns of all time! When released it redefined what the western could be, and helped launch the careers of John Wayne and Ford into the stars.
This is a five-star movie that deals with complex issues of human relations, social problems, and so on.
But the movie is not over as the Ringo Kid (Wayne) still has a score to settle.
Watch the main villan in the final scenes as he apparently appears more suited for silent films, he rarely speaks but does a lot more with physical acting and facial features.
Old Doc Boone played by one of the greatest character actors of the period Thomas Mitchell, an alcoholic orator banned from the town.
The beautiful Dallas, a good woman who is either a saloon girl or more obvious, a lady of the evening, forced into those labors purely due to economic hardship.
It is not Wayne's first A-list Western as some believe; he starred in the Raoul Walsh-directed "The Big Trail" in 1930; but it was a huge box-office flop; and Wayne was mostly relegated to "Poverty Row", B-list Westerns until his breakout role in this film.The ubiquitous Thomas Mitchell (he was in four other major films in 1939, including "GWTW", "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Mr Smith Goes to Washington") won a much deserved Oscar for his role as the iconic drunken town doc who always sobers up when he's needed.Andy Devine, who along with Gabby Hays and Walter Brennan, defined the Western sidekick role, plays the stage driver, Buck.The end culminates into the great western climax of a tremendous Indian attack with the odds terribly against them as the stagecoach tries to flee.The big question, will the cavalry get there in time.