American black and white western from 1939.
Starring: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine
Director: John Ford
Writers: Dudley Nichols, Ernest Haycox
Bechdel test: Pass
A stagecoach filled with a variety of characters from the old west must make a drive through Apache threatened country. Along the way the passengers and driver all get to know one another and the people at various way stations.
This is a proper old western with every element that brings to mind; old vengeance, damsels in distress, six shooters, hookers, Winchesters, Indians on the war path, lots of horses, and so much more.
“Stagecoach” has a some similarities with a play; the characters are thrown together, must relate to one another and that provokes developments for at least some of them. On the other hand, there is a lot of action in the movie that would have been difficult on a stage; the constantly moving coach and, not to give anything away, all those guns might get some use. The combo of the two types of movements is a rather nice juxtaposition. I would have expected the silent or stoic men of the old west to have less development and the women to have more passive roles and maybe any changes would be more dependent on men. Fortunately there is more to this movie.
The characters are made to be contrasting and represent several rungs in society. There is a banker that goes on about how “What’s good for the banks is good for the country”, a lawman looking for an escaped prisoner, a prisoner looking for revenge, a drunken old doctor, a gambling old officer, a whiskey salesman, a prostitute, a fancy officer’s wife and the coach driver. Together these provide both humor and some nice drama.
The first part of the movie sees everyone get on the coach, but after that it is all about the journey. The coach and the story moves along at quite the pace, and both the coach and the emotional developments get a little overloaded.
The acting is of amazing quality and all the nine main characters were portrayed well. It is rare to see an ensemble cast of such a high caliber. (Pardon the pun.)
The footage and direction was also nice and served the story well. The audio was slightly less suitable though. The music was overly dramatic, during almost any scene, regardless of content or mood. The Spanish song they hear at one of the way stations was really nice though.
The story has some good qualities and some bad. As mentioned, the story is surprisingly meaningful with well developed characters. However, it is somewhat naive and without too many twists. Regardless, it is a well made western with the legendary John Wayne and a whole slew of other great actors.
I liked “Stagecoach” and was pleasantly surprised by the western genre. It might not have the depth I usually look for in a movie, but much more than expected.
I would recommend “Stagecoach” to all adults. It is well worth seeing a good old western with John Wayne at least once in a lifetime.
Over to you
If you’ve recently seen “Stagecoach” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.
53 movies down. 312 to go.
If you want to get “Stagecoach” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?
Tomorrow’s movie is “Snatch”. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.
Until next time; live long and prosper.