Director: John Ford
Original Release: 1939
Choice: My Wife's
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Set in 1880, a band of unlikely traveling companions journey through dangerous Apache country. Wayne plays Ringo Kid, a fugitive from justice even though everyone knows he's really a swell guy. Also of note in the company are Dallas (Claire Trevor), a disgraced prostitute; Lucy Mallory (Louise Platt), a pregnant cavalry officer's wife in search of her husband and the alcoholic Doc Boone, played by Thomas Mitchell who won an Oscar for the role.
There's no denying the quality of this movie but Westerns have never really been my thing. I am well aware, nonetheless, that Westerns have had a major influence on a genre that is very dear to me, indeed: science fiction. Without a doubt, my treasured Star Wars owes an enormous debt to the idiom in general and probably this film in particular - especially the character of Han Solo. A ragtag group of adventures just trying to survive in a hostile universe? A lovable outlaw saves the day? Yup, sounds familiar.
In the most competitive year imaginable, Stagecoach won two Academy Awards in 1939. In addition to Mitchell's acting award, the movie won for Best Music (Scoring). The honored composers were Richard Hageman, W. Frank Harling, John Leipold and Leo Shuken.