Stagecoach is one of the most definitive Western films of all time, from which all other Westerns borrow or flat out copy.
Stagecoach is an old-school movie in every sense of the word. The characters are stripped down, traditional, Western stereotypes. The plot is a straight-forward race through hostile territory, with drunk doctors, a pregnant woman, a dubious banker, and, oh yeah, a shoot-out at the end. It was John Ford’s first Western using sound, John Wayne’s first highly acclaimed role, and the first Western shot in beautiful Monument Valley, Utah, and all of these elements truly elevated this film to a true classic.
The film begins with a stagecoach, naturally, about to depart through the Wild West, with Geronimo leading aggressive Indian attacks against white settlers in the area. The travelers include, a pregnant army wife trying to reach her husband, a banker who just stole $50,000 from his own bank, a drunk doctor, a whiskey salesman, a Marshall, a prostitute, a southern civil war vet, and of course the legendary local cowboy, the Ringo Kid. As the going gets tough, the characters start to come together and get on each other’s nerves at the same time. With all of the building tension surrounding each character and the ever present threat of an Indian attack, once they reach their destination, the Ringo Kid aims to settle a score with a trio of brothers who killed his father and brother.
Stagecoach is a truly entertaining film, with many memorable characters, and scenery. John Wayne steals every scene he is in, and his entrance is legendary in every way. The incredible, sweeping landscapes are contrasted nicely by the confined stagecoach. Despite all of the wide open space, the characters are forced to stay close to each other, for better or worse. The film really has good balance, each character is important and developed, there is great pacing between the action and the buildup, and there is even a hint of romance that really seems natural.
Stagecoach is one of the most definitive Western films of all time, from which all other Westerns borrow or flat out copy. Despite the fact the film was made over 70 years ago, it is still an exciting, thrilling movie that any film fan could still enjoy. This film is where it all begins, and a must see for any Western fan. The only reason this movie doesn’t get a 10 from me, is it’s just not as good the true Western elites such as The Searchers or The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.