A group of strangers traveling on a stagecoach must band
together after their journey is threatened by Apache warriors.
Directed by John Ford
Written by Dudley Nichols
Starring John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine,
Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine, Louise Platt,
George Bancroft, Donald Meek, Berton Churchill
Oscar Wins - Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Mitchell),
Best Original Score (Richard Hageman, W. Franke Harling,
John Leipold, Leo Shuken)
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Director,
Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing
I'm sure that at the time, Stagecoach was the greatest American western ever made. However, it has not aged well, in my opinion. While the performances are top notch and the landscapes are nothing short of breathtaking, the film lacks any sort of substance and seems like a prototype of westerns far greater than itself.
I must acknowledge that this was the film that jumpstarted the career of the legendary John Wayne. He proves his worth as an American icon with his performance in this film, playing the quintessential outlaw with a heart of gold. Another standout was Thomas Mitchell, who played one of the few really interesting characters, drunk doctor Josiah Boone. He was definitely an oddball, giving this slow-paced film some much-needed amusement.
I know I'm in the minority here, but I simply did not think Stagecoach was a great film. It's a good film, sure, but it isn't great. It acts as a template for the American western, with elements of it being used in The Searchers and other films of the time. It suffers from a forgettable plot, mild characters, and a serious problem with pace. Still, if you love westerns, you really should watch it, if only to see where the cliches began.