Archive for November 27th, 2013


by Brandie Ashe

In 1939, John Ford made what was arguably the most important film of his career: Stagecoach. Now, that is not to say that Stagecoach is necessarily his “best” film; that, of course, is a matter of opinion (and majority opinion over the years has tended to hand that title to Ford’s searing 1956 Western The Searchers, or the 1940 drama The Grapes of Wrath, or the three films in his so-called “Cavalry Trilogy,” or any number of the other films on his expansive resume). But what makes this movie–Ford’s first Western in more than a decade, and his first with sound–such a remarkable standout in the director’s impressive filmography is how, at the time, it added a refreshing new depth to the increasingly stale concept of the Western. With Stagecoach, Ford expands upon and enhances general Western tropes to craft an intriguing character study that transcends the prototypical cowboy yarn. The end result is one of the landmark movies of the genre, a classic so intricately and thoughtfully composed that it would influence an entire generation of filmmakers, including, by his own account, a young Orson Welles.

It also helps that Stagecoach happens to be one hell of an entertaining movie.


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