My wife will tell anyone that my mind works in mysterious ways. It seems to ramble around until it finds disparate bits of information and makes odd connections that mystify her. “How did you get that from that?,” she often asks. To be honest, I don’t really know. The latest is from the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) that stars John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Lee Marvin, Vera Miles, Edmond O’Brien, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Woody Strode (a former NFL running back), and many other fine character actors.
It’s a great film. Gene Pitney wrote the song “(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance,” the same year the film debuted, but it is not attached to the film.
The villain is Lee Marvin whose name is Liberty Valance, a stark contradiction to his character and worldview. He might be one of the most anti-liberty villains to appear on film. He despises Liberty except for himself. He does everything he can to squash it. Don’t even try to print the truth in the local newspaper, The Shinbone Star.
Using Classic Films to Teach the Christian Worldview
Movies are a self-contained world. The writers and producers make the rules and the circumstances for the worlds they create. Most often though, films use the assumed order of the natural world and don't attempt to re-write reality for the viewer. Films either reinforce the real world or they rebel against it. Either way, they provide a great way to think through worldview issues and their consequences.Buy Now
Here’s Liberty being anti-liberty. Pay special attention to what John Wayne’s character does to Strother Martin:
Names are important in this film. Liberty is a contradiction, but Ransom “Ranse” Stoddard (Stewart) is true to his name —“to free from captivity.” Stewart’s character comes as the rescuer, but no one seems to see it or care for it. His actions will ransom the people from oppression from the mis-named Liberty but with some much-needed help. Tom Doniphon is the protector. He is the only one, by his sheer presence and a side arm that keeps Liberty Valance and his henchmen at bay. But this is no permanent solution. Ranse believes the law is the key. As a Lawyer, he wants to bring stability to the region.
Entering the then-unincorporated territory as a young lawyer, Ranse is beaten and robbed by infamous outlaw Liberty Valance and his gang. Tom Doniphon and his handyman, Pompey, find Ranse and take him to Shinbone, where Tom’s girlfriend, Hallie, treats his wounds. Ranse learns Valance frequently terrorizes Shinbone and the surrounding country since the local marshal, Link Appleyard, is overweight and too cowardly to stop him. Tom says Valance only understands force, but Ranse is determined to bring Valance to justice through the law.
I won’t tell you more of the story, you’ll have to watch.
This film reminds me of what’s going on in our country and world today. Words don’t mean what they used to. The Left loves to use words like “liberty,” “liberal,” “democracy,” “democratic,” “freedom of choice,” and “toleration,” but they mean their opposite and are enforced as such with Valance-like tactics.
Not only is Liberty anti-liberty, but he is also pro-censorship.
Shinbone’s men meet to elect two delegates to the forthcoming statehood convention at the territorial capital. Tom refuses Ranse’s nomination: ultimately, Ranse and Peabody are elected. Valance, hired by the cattle barons who oppose statehood, tries and fails to intimidate the voters into electing him as a delegate. Valance challenges Ranse to a gunfight to be held later in the evening. Tom offers to assist Ranse in leaving town, but Ranse stubbornly declines. That evening, Valance and his gang vandalize the newspaper office and severely injure Peabody for printing stories that he finds insulting.
The anti-liberty leftists of today would not find a contrary news story insulting; they would find it detrimental to their agenda. Burying or cancelling news stories are the coin of the realm to protect agendas that are weak in principle and fact. “When the legend becomes fact,” the newspaper man tells Stoddard, “print the legend.” One person wrote, “This illustrates perfectly why the press doesn’t serve the needs of the people. Illusion is the media’s stock in trade, when what the people really need is truth, for no one can form valid opinions or make correct decisions on the basis of illusion.”
Pop some popcorn, set aside some drinks, and enjoy John Ford’s masterful western drama The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. You can find it on Classic Reel that shows Classic Movies, TV Shows, Cartoons, and Documentaries. 18 Popular genres from 1930 to 1975, with many in HD and no ads for $2.95 for a monthly subscription. Well worth the price for a great movie channel. Introduce your children and grandchildren to some great classic films.
Restoring the Foundation of Civilization
There are many Christians who will not participate in civilization-building efforts that include economics, journalism, politics, education, and science because they believe (or have been taught to believe) these areas of thought are outside the realm of what constitutes a Christian worldview. Nothing could be further from the truth.Buy Now