Stagecoach, the movie starring John Wayne and Claire Trevor, VHS version
Five out of five stars
Before this film, the man that became the star known as John Wayne was little more than an extra, his character of the noble outlaw, the Ringo Kid, made him a star of the popular western genre. The background premise is one that has been used many times in entertainment.
A group of people of diverse backgrounds are placed together on a stagecoach. There is a prostitute named Dallas, an alcoholic doctor called Doc Boone, a gambler and Southern gentleman named Hatfield, a traveling whiskey salesman called Samuel Peacock, the pregnant wife of a cavalry officer named Lucy Mallory, a banker named Henry Gatewood and the driver Buck and the local Marshal Curly Cox that is riding shotgun.
The Ringo Kid (John Wayne) was in prison and heard that his father and brother had been murdered by Luke Plummer. He broke out of prison for the sole purpose of avenging the deaths of his relatives. Once the stage is on the road they encounter the Ringo Kid standing on the side of the road carrying a saddle. His horse had come up lame and he needs transportation.
Apache chief Geronimo and a band of warriors have left the reservation and are creating havoc in the area and the U. S. Cavalry escort has orders to go on another road, leaving the stagecoach to fend for itself. Marshal Cox makes it clear that if they are attacked by Geronimo, he expects the Ringo Kid to stand and fight with them. True to his noble nature, the Ringo Kid agrees.
While the danger and the Apache attack on the stagecoach is very formulaic, the movie is made by the interaction of the characters. Ringo and Dallas quickly form a bond due to their outcast backgrounds and the respectable banker acts like a selfish blowhard while the others prepare to fight to save his life. The ostracized doctor rises to his professional calling when needed and Dallas demonstrates her worth to society in caring for Lucy when she gives birth. It is a remake of the group of travelers from widely different backgrounds that must somehow find common ground in order to survive.
No western is complete without a climactic shoot-out and this one is no exception. Dallas waits in anticipation of the gunshots that will let her know that the fight has taken place and she will then wonder which side, if any, survived the battle.
There have been many western movies made over the years, this one was truly a breakthrough, both in the creation of a star and in many ways the creation of a genre.