elegiac tale and questions the relationship between fact and legend in helping to create the myth of nationhood. As in so many great cowboy dramas the fight of the individual against corruption and wrong-doing is paramount. Wayne’s character, Tom Doniphon, sacrifices just about everything he cares about by doing what he knows to be right. He and the lawless old west are anachronisms that must fade to allow the new America, characterised by James Stewart, to thrive and grow.
Yet, when I watched this film, it kept reminding me of something. Exactly what though I just couldn’t grasp for ages. Why did I keep thinking of the Samurai movies of Akira Kurosawa whenever I thought about this film? Then, eureka! Of course, Kurosawa had loved to watch
the cowboy films of John Ford when he was a lad. They had greatly informed his work. I’m no film buff myself, and I probably know more about Kurosawa’s films than John Ford’s. But here I was watching a classic western directed by the acknowledged master of the genre that could so easily be transposed into a Japanese samurai tale, in the same way as The Magnificent Seven and A Fistful of Dollars had been adapted into westerns from Seven Samurai and Yojimbo.
I daresay we all do it, reference stuff that has deeply influenced us in the things we do. It would only be natural for Kurosawa to emulate the shots and shooting style of his great
If you’ve never seen The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance I can highly recommend it.