Do you know 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance'?

ENTERTAINMENT

John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: tmdb

About This Quiz

The 60s were a strange time for Western movies. The glory days of the 50s were over, and disillusionment was creeping into Western storylines. How much do you know about "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"?

The movie opens at which sort of event?

The story begins at a funeral, as a man named Ransom Stoddard and his wife, Hallie, attend Tom Doniphon's funeral.

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This film featured major Hollywood actors. Who got top billing?

This is a classic John Wayne movie. He plays a man named Tom Doniphon, who is about to be very upset with a new lawyer in town.

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Who plays the part of Ransom Stoddard?

James Stewart is Ransom Stoddard. Stoddard is a U.S. senator at Doniphon's funeral … but no one understands why a senator would take the time to mourn the passing of a rather boring local man like Tom Doniphon.

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The funeral takes place in a small Western town with an unusual name. What's the name of the town?

Stoddard and his wife travel all the way from Washington, D.C. for the funeral in tiny Shinbone. It's a place that's barely a blip on the map.

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A local reporter asks Stoddard why he's bothered to travel all the way to Shinbone. Then what happens to the movie's storyline?

After a reporter inquires as to why Stoddard has made his way to Shinbone, the bulk of the movie becomes a flashback. It details the adventures of Stoddard and Doniphon in the Old West.

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As the flashback begins, we find out who Liberty Valance is. Who is this character?

Liberty Valance is a local outlaw. He robs Stoddard, a traveling lawyer, and leaves him bleeding outside of town.

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Who plays the part of the notorious Liberty Valance?

Lee Marvin portrays the character named Liberty Valance. Marvin's distinct face and deep voice made him instantly recognizable. He was Lt. Frank Ballinger in a TV crime series called "M Squad."

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The 1962 movie was shot with color film.

Color movies were common in 1962, but "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" was black and white -- mostly so that Paramount could save money on the overall budget.

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After Valance beats Stoddard and leaves him dying on the side of the road, what does Stoddard do?

The locals treat Stoddard's wounds and tell him about Valance's brutality towards the townspeople. Stoddard decides to set up a law practice … and he hopes to bring an end to Valance's evil ways.

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A young woman named Hallie lives in Shinbone. What does she ask of Stoddard?

Hallie is of working age but she's illiterate. Stoddard immediately says that he'll help her learn to read. As it turns out, Hallie is being courted by Tom Doniphon, who isn't happy to see Stoddard spending time with the object of his affections.

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How does the local sheriff respond to all of the misdeeds committed by Liberty Valance?

The local sheriff is too terrified of Valance to do anything to stop him. Only Stoddard -- and Doniphon -- seem to have the guts to stand up to the murderous bully.

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This movie was made way back in 1962. What was its budget?

The film was made for around $3 million. Although not insignificant, that amount was just a fraction of another early (and much bigger) 60s movie -- "How the West Was Won" -- which had a budget of $14 million.

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Both Stoddard and Doniphon oppose Valance. They have a similar plan to stop him.

Stoddard is a man of law and justice. Doniphon, however, believes that the only way to stop a man like Valance is to oppose him directly -- with force.

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During the movie, there's an important election on which matter?

The locals have to cast their votes on whether the territory will attempt to become a state. Stoddard encourages people to vote for statehood, as it will improve the quality of life for everyone on the frontier.

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Which business people set out to sabotage the statehood vote?

The big ranchers don't want statehood because it will clamp down on their ability to raise cattle all across the frontier. So they pay Liberty Valance and his henchmen to intimidate people into voting against the issue … or not voting at all.

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The film got excellent reviews from critics. Who directed?

John Ford, perhaps the best-known Western director ever, was in charge of "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." By the time this film came along, Ford was already a major Hollywood star.

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The often irascible John Ford knew that Paramount wasn't investing much into the film. What was life like on set?

Ford was at a peaceful point of his life, enjoying his work and understanding that he had nothing to lose. But as per usual, he lobbed plenty of verbal jabs at his actors.

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What happens when Valance challenges the lawyer Stoddard to a gunfight?

Stoddard is a man of honor and courage. He decides to face Valance in the gunfight. But Stoddard has no idea how to handle a gun.

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What happens during the showdown between Valance and Stoddard?

Valance is much faster with a gun -- he shoots Stoddard in the arm. Just as he's about to finish off the lawyer, Stoddard gets off one shot and Valance falls to the ground, dead.

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"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is one of the most famous Westerns ever. It was nominated for one Academy Award.

For all of its fame, the movie was nominated for just one Academy Award -- for Best Costume Design.

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The movie won a single Oscar.

The film didn't win following its nomination for Best Costume Design. However, Wayne did win a Laurel Award for the best action performance in a film.

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Why does Doniphon become very angry after Stoddard kills Valance?

After Stoddard is wounded during the gunfight, Hallie coos over his wounds and gives him tender care. Doniphon realizes that he's never going to get the girl. So he gets drunk … and angry.

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Doniphon is enraged that Hallie is in love with Stoddard. What does he do?

His dreams of love ended, Doniphon gets drunk and sets fire to his own home. He survives only because his hired hand saves him from the flames.

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Thanks to Ford's name, this movie was hailed (and promoted) as a huge production.

By this time, Ford was old news (and simply getting old). The studio had very low expectations for the film and didn't put much into promotion.

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John Ford was known for using magnificent filming locations. This film was no exception.

Ford's earlier film crews traveled all over the West. But this one was shot in California, mostly on a Hollywood set. Paramount simply didn't want to spend any money making this movie.

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How did John Wayne feel about his part as Tom Doniphon?

Wayne was used to being in the spotlight, but in this film, Doniphon is often relegated to secondary storylines. He also grew tired of John Ford's abuse.

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At the territory's statehood convention, Stoddard is nominated for a leadership position, but he declines. Why?

Stoddard feels as though he's an unfit leader because he killed a man in the streets. But then Doniphon tells him that he's the one who really shot Valance. He fired a bullet from an alley and killed the outlaw. Stoddard, relieved by the news, becomes a political bigwig.

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"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is a true classic Western film. In which decade did it hit theaters?

The 50s were a prime era for Westerns, but the early 60s saw some classics emerge from Hollywood, too. This one was released in 1962.

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At the end of the movie, the flashback ends and we return to the present. How does the movie end?

Having relived the glory days of yore, Stoddard realizes that his heart is in Shinbone. He and Hallie move back to the small town and settle there for good.

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The film was a box office success.

On its budget of $3 million, the movie made about $8 million. More importantly, it became a cultural touchstone in the Western genre.

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