Friday, July 16, 2010


This is the movie that made Westerns A-fare and broke John Wayne out of the B-picture ranks. It also contains just about the best ensemble cast ever formed, not only for a Western, but for any movie.

Thomas Mitchell crowned a fantastic year which saw roles in “Gone With The Wind”, “Only Angels Have Wings”, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” and “The Hunchback Of Notre Dame”. Any one of those, especially in the first two mentioned films, could have taken the Oscar, but Doc Boone got it. In many ways he exemplifies the message of the entire film which is the lifting up of the fallen.

Doc Boone, run out of town for drunkenness, delivered a baby on the trail and became an inspiration for others. He stood up to the villains in Lordsburg no one else was willing to stand up to.

John Carradine portrayed the fallen southern gentleman who came back for one last moment of gallantry.

Dallas (played by Clair Trevor) moves our heartstrings through her desire to rise above the life she has fallen in to, but which she feels unable to get above. Somehow her simplicity shines brighter than the virtue of the self-righteous. She reminds us that before God all of our righteousness is as filthy rags, but also that God is able to use anyone.

The Ringo Kid (Wayne) is out for revenge and gets it, but somehow it moves from being the central issue in his life to a side one. In a sense his fight is a just one which society will not fight for him. Many of us feel that way at times when we know we have the right on our side, but no authority will back us up. He gets a final reprieve when he is sent on his way with Dallas to a new life of redemption elsewhere.

We also see the mighty fall to their own sins as in the case of the absconding banker or become humbled as the proud army wife is in having to accept help from the woman of fallen virtue.

Then there is Donald Meek, a favorite of mine. He is an actor who almost always lived up to his name. There is something totally endearing about the little whisky drummer who can’t resist the advances of the drunken doctor on his samples, but who is willing to brave dangers for the sake of the ladies and the new baby.

God has similarly put us in a world with many kinds of characters in it. What matters at the end is our own character. Will it be that of Jesus or will it be our own?

(Sorry it's taken me so long to finish this series of my top 10 favorite films, this being #4. The blog has kind of gone on the back burner, but I'll finish it soon and get on to other things)