John Ford’s Stagecoach: The Definitive Western

Although there have been hundreds of Westerns released since films began, there is only one that stands saddles and boots above its rivals: John Ford‘s 1939 epic Stagecoach. Filmed in Monument Valley (the site of many real-life sagebrush adventures), the movie chronicles the dramatic stagecoach journey of nine diverse passengers (including John Wayne in a star-making turn as outlaw the Ringo Kid) as they travel through Apache territory. While trying to avoid a run-in with Geronimo and his men, the occupants encounter plenty of thrills, excitement─riding into film history in the process. Buoyed by supporting turns from the likes of Claire Trevor, John Carradine, and, in an Oscar-winning performance, Thomas Mitchell, Stagecoach (which won one other Academy Award and was nominated for a total of seven), the film became an instant sensation. What was most remarkable about Stagecoach is how it helped expand the parameters of what was possible from the Western genre — showing that these types of movies could have strongly developed characters and stunning sequences that B-level oaters never could accomplish. As a result, John Wayne became a Western icon, and the film is still considered to be the high-water mark of the genre.


The original trailer for the film can be viewed above. It continues to demonstrate how riveting motion pictures about frontier life can be.