Stagecoach (1939)

Director: John Ford
Writer: Ernest Haycox (Story), Dudley Nichols (Screenplay)
Producer: John Ford
Cinematographer: Bert Glennon
Editor: Otho Lovering, Dorothy Spencer, Walter Reynolds
Art Direction: Alexander Toluboff
Costumes: Walter Plunkett
Make-Up: Norbert A. Myles
Assistant Director: Wingate Smith
Second Unit Director: Yakima Canutt
Sound Recordist: Frank Maher
Sound Effects Editor: Robert Parrish
Music: Gerard Carbonara
Stunts: Frank Baker, Yakima Canutt (stunt coordinator), Iron Eyes Cody, Ken Cooper, Johnny Eckert, Helen Gibson, W. Frank Long, Jack Mohr, Artie Ortego, Buddy Roosevelt, David Sharpe, Henry Wills, Billy Yellow (stunt rigger).

Production Company: Walter Wanger Productions, Inc.
Production Dates: Early Nov 1938 to 7 Jan 1939
Production Costs: $392,000 (Budget); over $500,000 (Actual) 
General Release Date: 3 March 1939


Claire Trevor as Dallas
John Wayne as Ringo Kid
Andy Devine as Buck
John Carradine as Hatfield
Thomas Mitchell as Doc Josiah Boone
Louise Platt as Mrs. Lucy Mallory
George Bancroft as Marshal Curley Wilcox
Donald Meek as Samuel Peacock
Berton Churchill as Ellsworth Henry Gatewood
Tim Holt as Lt. Blanchard
Tom Tyler as Luke Plummer

Dorothy Appleby as Girl in Saloon (uncredited)
Frank Baker (uncredited)
Chief John Big Tree as Indian Scout (uncredited)
Ted Billings (uncredited)
Wiggie Blowne (uncredited)
Danny Borzage (uncredited)
Ed Brady as Lordsburg Saloon Owner (uncredited)
Fritzi Brunette (uncredited)
Yakima Canutt as Cavalry Scout/Indian Attacking Stagecoach (uncredited)
Nora Cecil as Boone's Landlady (uncredited)
Steve Clemente as Man who alerts the Plummer brothers (uncredited)
Bill Cody as Rancher (uncredited)
Jack Curtis as Lordsburg Saloon Bartender (uncredited)
Marga Ann Deighton as Mrs. Pickett (uncredited)
Patricia Doyle (uncredited)
Tex Driscoll (uncredited)
Johnny Eckert (uncredited)
Franklyn Farnum as Deputy Frank (uncredited)
Francis Ford as Sgt. Billy Pickett (uncredited)
Brenda Fowler as Mrs. Gatewood (uncredited)
Olin Francis as Lordsburg Townsman (uncredited)
Helen Gibson as Girl in Saloon (uncredited)
Don Hawks (uncredited)
Robert Homans as Ed - Editor (uncredited)
William Hopper as Sergeant (uncredited)
Si Jenks as Bartender (uncredited)
Cornelius Keefe as Capt. Whitney (uncredited)
Florence Lake as Mrs. Nancy Whitney (uncredited)
Al Lee (uncredited)
Duke R. Lee as Lordsburg Sheriff (uncredited)
Theodore Lorch as Lordsburg Express Agent (uncredited)
Chris-Pin Martin as Chris (uncredited)
Jim Mason as Jim - Tonto Express Agent (uncredited)
Louis Mason as Tonto Sheriff (uncredited)
Merrill McCormick as Townsman Ogling at Dallas (uncredited)
J. P. McGowan (uncredited)
Walter McGrail as Capt. Sickel (uncredited)
Paul McVey as Pony Express Agent (uncredited)
Jack Mohr (uncredited)
Kent Odell as Billy Pickett Jr. (uncredited)
Artie Ortego as Lordsburg Bar Patron (uncredited)
Vester Pegg as Hank Plummer (uncredited)
Jack Pennick as Jerry - Tonto Bartender (uncredited)
Chris Phillips (uncredited)
Joe Rickson as Ike Plummer (uncredited)
Buddy Roosevelt as Rancher (uncredited)
Elvira Rios as Yakima (uncredited)
Mickey Simpson (uncredited)
Margaret Smith (uncredited)
Chuck Stubbs (uncredited)
Harry Tenbrook as Telegraph Operator (uncredited)
Leonard Trainor as Townsman (uncredited)
Mary Kathleen Walker as Lucy's Baby (uncredited)
Bryant Washburn as Capt. Simmons (uncredited)
Whitehorse as Indian Chief (uncredited)
Hank Worden as Cavalryman (uncredited)

The Plot

A group of disparate companions all have different reasons to take a journey across the plains and mountains of Arizona in a stagecoach pulled by six horses with the constant threat of being attacked by Geronimo and the Apache Indians. On the journey they discover a little bit more about each other and themselves and their lives may never be the same again.

Review [*Spoilers*]

Stagecoach is a quality movie with a quality script and quality performances from its stars. And what stars they are. An ensemble cast of fine actors who all bring something unique to the table.

The film rolls along at a fair pace rather like the movement of the stagecoach in the title. With the mainly unseen threat of an impending attack from Geronimo and the Apache Indians, the film builds up an atmsophere of tension which spills out through the interaction between the very different characters. Although there are scenes of action, it is more of a character-driven experience for the viewer, with secrets and lies playing a central role in the film.

There is very much a sense of class distinction, of the wealthy and the poor, forced together in a confined space for the duration of the journey. There are also the good and the bad characters, which are not easily defined. The characters are all here: the officer's wife who is about to give birth while not knowing if she is a widow or not, the prostitute forced out of town, similarly the drunken doctor who is also shunned by the town, he himself calling it 'social prejudice'. Then there is the banker who has absconded with a payroll, a Southern gambler and former Confederate soldier, and finally a meek whiskey salesman, persuaded to continue the journey by the drunken doctor who is only interested in his 'samples'. The driver is a put upon husband and then there is the marshal who is hunting an escaped convict, The Ringo Kid.

The part of The Ringo Kid is played by John Wayne who was not the first choice for the role. It was John Ford himself who petitioned for Wayne to play the part after several other top actors turned it down or were not suitable. The Ringo Kid joins the ride early on and has his mind set on revenge, which makes up the conclusion of the film.

The film is an easy watch. I didn't want to stop watching at any time, which is often what I want to do with many modern films.

Interesting Additional Information

Two of the best stunts in the film are performed by Yakima Canutt, who was also given the stunt coordinator job. They both involve the six horses pulling the stagecoach and could have easily gone terribly wrong had it not been for the professionalism of Canutt.

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