The Ultimate Stagecoach Movie Quiz!

By: John Miller
Image: tmdb

About This Quiz

Hollywood cranked out countless Westerns in the '30s and '40s, and many of them were forgettable affairs. "Stagecoach," however, featured big stars and a major budget. How much do you know about this iconic and influential Western film?

"Stagecoach" is a hit movie from 1939. Who had top billing in this production?

Claire Trevor appeared in more than 60 movies during her Hollywood career. "Stagecoach" made her the star of the show.

True or false: This is the role that made John Wayne famous.

Before "Stagecoach," John Wayne was still an up-and-coming actor. This hugely successful movie made him one of the industry's hottest new stars.

The movie featured John Wayne in a huge role. Who directed the film?

Director John Ford made a name for himself in the Western genre. He didn't make glib cowboy flicks -- he interweaved true artistry into his movies.

The story is set in 1880, as a group of people heads West on a stagecoach. Where are they going?

A handful of strangers on a trusty stagecoach are heading west to the New Mexico Territory. This being the Wild West, they're about to get more than they bargained for.

True or false: The movie made money at the box office.

Ford's movie did well. Its gross earnings were more than double the budget… a fact that convinced Hollywood to invest more in the Western genre.

Claire Trevor plays a woman named Dallas. What's her occupation?

Trevors is Dallas, a woman who works as a prostitute. She's heading out West to get away from the more prudish morality of the East.

The stagecoach is accompanied by a small contingent of U.S. cavalry soldiers. Why?

The soldiers are instructed to protect the stagecoach against Indians. Chief Geronimo and his Apache warriors are on the warpath, endangering anyone who wanders through their lands.

John Wayne has a memorable nickname in this movie. What is that nickname?

The Ringo Kid is an escaped outlaw, stranded in the desert after his horse is injured. The U.S. troops take him into their custody when they spot him on the side of the wagon trail.

The movie takes place in the desert Southwest. Where did most of the filming take place?

The movie was mostly shot in and around Monument Valley, an iconic place filled with massive rock formations. John Ford made some of his best movies there.

Actor Thomas Mitchell plays Doc Boone, a doctor who struggles with which problem?

Doc Boone is a highly educated man who is also an alcoholic. He can never resist a free drink. Or any drink, for that matter.

The story is an adaptation of which work of art?

The screenplay for "Stagecoach" is based on a short story titled "The Stage to Lordsburg," by Dudley Nichols. John Ford jumped on the rights to the story immediately after he saw it published in a 1937 magazine.

This movie made John Waye a true celebrity. How many films did he make before "Stagecoach"?

That's right, "The Duke" had already appeared in 79 movies prior to "Stagecoach." After years of slogging along, he finally broke through as a star.

Along the route, the stage picks up a banker named Henry Gatewood. True or false: He's an honest man.

Henry is a crook. He's stolen $50,000 from the bank and now he's making a run for the West, hoping to start again as a new (rich) man.

Why is Ringo headed to Lordsburg?

Kid Ringo broke out of prison after hearing about the murder of his family. He's heading to Lordsburg to find revenge.

The movie did very well at the box office. What did critics think of John Ford's creation?

Critics were unanimous -- the film was a virtual masterpiece. They heaped the praise on John Ford and the cast of his now-famous movie.

As the group rides through the desert, Ringo gets along famously with Dallas. He asks her to marry him. What does she say?

Dallas hides her life as a prostitute from Ringo. But after some deliberation, she accepts his proposal.

The cavalry troops escorting the stagecoach depart for a new destination. Why?

The cavalry troops receive new orders and depart for a new destination. The stagecoach is now unprotected and in dangerous territory.

How did John Wayne and director John Ford get along on set?

Wayne and Ford were friendly throughout the '30s, but once they were on set together Ford had no mercy on The Duke. Ford bullied him mercilessly, both to please his own ego and ostensibly to make a better film.

Why did so much of the filming take place in Monument Valley?

John Ford loved Monument Valley -- so much so that he had the stagecoach traverse its ground three times during the course of the story. The director returned to this location over and over again during his career.

The film was an incredible hit. True or false: It was nominated for seven Academy Awards.

It was indeed nominated for seven Oscars. The nominations included the coveted Best Picture and Best Director awards.

Of its seven Oscar nominations, how many "Stagecoach" actually win?

"Stagecoach" took home two Oscar trophies. It won for Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Mitchell) and Best Music (Scoring).

In this era, most Hollywood interior sets didn't have ceilings. This movie's sets did. Why?

Ford purposely wanted a ceiling on his interior sets. The idea was to present a significant visual contrast with the huge skies and open spaces of Monument Valley.

True or false: John Ford really wanted John Wayne in the role of Ringo.

The studio didn't really like Wayne for the role. But Ford insisted -- he was sure that Wayne's acting ability was at a level appropriate for such a major production.

Yakima Canutt had a major role in the making of the film. What job did he have?

Canutt was a stunt man and rodeo star. He designed and performed the truly dangerous stunts that helped make the film such a breathless, heart-pounding hit.

True or false: The feared Apaches never attack the stagecoach.

The folks aboard the stagecoach are nearing their destination, elated at their good fortune, when the Apaches finally attack. The violence swirls all around the terrified occupants.

What dangerous stunt does an Apache character perform during the attack scene?

The dangerous stunt saw an Apache jumping from his horse to the stagecoach horse and then falling beneath between the rolling wheels. It wasn't a faked stunt and it was in fact incredibly treacherous. It's one of the most famous stunts in Hollywood history.

Which actor had the highest salary during this film?

Trevors was the best-paid actor on set. She was by far the movie's biggest star and made the biggest bucks.

The film shows a clash of personalities and values. True or false: It is essentially a morality play.

At the beginning of the film, the supposedly respectable people of society turn out to be rotten to the core. Under fire, the characters who have "bad" personalities turn out to display selflessness and dignity.

Ringo kills the men who killed his family. Then what happens?

After escaping the Apaches and serving cold-blooded revenge to his sworn enemies, Ringo takes Dallas and rides off into the sunset.

The movie was made in 1939. What was its budget?

"Stagecoach" was made for about $550,000. In today's money, that's about $9.5 million.

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