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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stagecoach (1939)

A disparate group of strangers travel by stagecoach from Arizona to New Mexico: a prostitute (Claire Trevor), a drunken doctor (Thomas Mitchell), a gambler (John Carradine), a whiskey salesman (Donald Meek), a pregnant woman (Louise Platt), a bank manager (Berton Churchill) absconding with funds, an outlaw (John Wayne) and two drivers (George Bancroft, Andy Devine). But first they have to go through hostile Apache territory to get there. Based on the short story STAGE TO LORDSBURG by Ernest Haycox, this is one of the most admired and revered films in American cinema. It's the prototype for those "people in peril" films that would eventually gestate into the disaster films of the 1970s. However, unlike those films, since there is no disaster, there is more room for detailed characterization and John Ford's direction is impeccable (Orson Welles thought it the perfect film). The film was a breakthrough for Wayne who had been toiling in films since the silent era and would soon become one of cinema's most iconic stars. Rich and textured, it's truly a landmark film. With Tim Holt and Chris-Pin Martin.

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