She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

  • Directors: John Ford
  • Producers: Merian C Cooper, Lowell J Farrell, John Ford
  • Writers: James Warner Bellah, Frank S Nugent, Laurence Stallings
  • Genres: Western
  • Actors: John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar, Victor McLaglen, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr

On the verge of his retirement at Fort Starke, a one-troop cavalry post, the aging US Cavalry Capt. Nathan Cutting Brittles (John Wayne) is given one last patrol, to take his troop and deal with a breakout from the reservation by the Cheyenne and Arapaho following the defeat of George Armstrong Custer. His task is complicated by being forced at the same time to deliver his commanding officer’s wife and niece, Abby Allshard (Mildred Natwick) and Olivia Dandridge (Joanne Dru)), to an east-bound stage, and by the need to avoid a new Indian war. His troop officers, 1st Lt. Cohill (John Agar) and 2nd Lt. Pennell (Harry Carey, Jr.) meanwhile vie for the affections of Miss Dandridge while uneasily anticipating the retirement of their captain and mentor. Rounding out the cast are Capt. Brittles’ chief scout, Sgt. Tyree (Ben Johnson), a one-time Confederate cavalry officer; his First Sergeant, Quincannon (Victor McLaglen); and Major Allshard (George O’Brien), long-time friend and C.O.

After apparently failing in both missions, Capt. Brittles returns with the troop to Fort Starke to retire. His lieutenants continue the mission in the field, joined by Capt. Brittles after “quitting the post and the Army”. Unwilling to see more lives needlessly taken, Capt. Brittles takes it upon himself to try to make peace with Chief Pony That Walks (Chief John Big Tree). When that too fails, he devises a risky stratagem to avoid a bloody war.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

  • Directors: John Ford
  • Producers: Willis Goldbeck, John Ford
  • Writers: James Warner Bellah, Willis Goldbeck, Dorothy M Johnson
  • Genres: Drama, Romance, Western
  • Actors: John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin, Lee Van Cleef

The film opens on preparations for a funeral. A U.S. Senator and his wife have come back to the small town of Shinbone, in an unnamed Western state. The senator is prevailed upon by a newspaper editor to explain why he has come to bury an apparent nobody. The senator explains and the film unfolds in flashback, to a time before the railroad came to Shinbone, to when the region was a western territory and statehood was the pressing issue.

Ransom “Rance” Stoddard (James Stewart) is an attorney who believes in law and order, but refuses to carry a gun. Robbed and violently attacked on his way to town by Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), an outlaw with a silver-handled whip, Stoddard is brought to town by a man named Tom Doniphon, who brings the injured stranger to the care of friends in town.

Doniphon (John Wayne) is a rancher, who believes there is no law and one “needs a gun in these parts.” Doniphon feels that Stoddard is a hopeless tenderfoot who is unable to handle himself in the kind of fights that are common in the West. Stoddard in return cannot understand Doniphon’s thinking, which is exactly like Liberty Valance’s — might makes right. Caught in between is Hallie (Vera Miles), a woman widely regarded to be the love of Doniphon’s life.

The movie ends with Senator Stoddard and Hallie returning to Washington by train, melancholy about the lie that led to their prosperous life. Stoddard asks a conductor how long it will take to get to Washington. The conductor tells them that the train is traveling at high speed and that at an upcoming junction they are holding the express train for him. “Nothing’s too good,” he says, “for the man who shot Liberty Valance.”