This week’s Western, courtesy of the fine folks at Netflix, was The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. It’s another John Ford directed classic, starring John Wayne, although this time around John Wayne gets to share the film with Jimmy Stuart and Lee Marvin. It’s always a treat for me watching actors with a lot of screen presence playing off one another, which means it’s a bit of a sadness that these days green screen technology makes it possible for actors to appear to be having a scene together but never actually have met in person. Yes, I’m looking at you, Sin City; you had Mickey Rourke and Rutger Hauer in the same movie, but never in the same room.

Then again I suppose the same complaint could be made about Shatner vs. Montalban in Wrath of Khan, and yet their scenery chewing struggle to out-overact one another is what arguably makes the movie. So perhaps my point is pointless.

Anyhow, TMWSLV is a tale of the struggle occurring towards the end of the Old West between the forces of civilization and (if I may be so dramatic) savagery. At least that’s my view, and I think one backed up by dramatic character names like Ransom Stoddard and Liberty Valance. The interesting thing about the movie is how it appears to be sympathetic to the side of civilization, but the climactic event seems to give the lesson that only another act of savagery by a lawless man can keep the dream of civilization alive. Ford’s ambiguity isn’t as full force here as it is by the time of The Searchers, but there’s still questions to chew on.

TMWSLV gives us two more famous legacies for the ages: first, I believe it’s the one and only movie where John Wayne keeps uttering the word “pilgrim”, but wow has that stuck with The Duke. And second, we get the immortal lines from the newspaper man who has just heard the true account of what happened all those years ago in the town of Shinbone, but makes clear that he intends to keep to the dramatic story everyone knows:

“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

Great line. And it so happens that I’ve recently finished up my own little slice of fact/legend in fulfilling last week’s promise of a background setting page for Zombie Ranch. Now again, I’m going to warn you folks that this page may give away details you don’t want to know yet. I will further warn you that if you think these blog posts are wordy, you’d best stay away from the walls o’ text which will greet you over yonder. But if you really want a gander at some of the concepts behind this weird world of zombie livestock, feel free to check out “The Setting” under our About page: LINK

In closing this week I’d like to give a shout out to Derrick Ravey and Emi over at Everyday Decay for being great email pen pals and playing a mean game of Left 4 Dead. Really, I nominate Left 4 Dead (and Left 4 Dead 2) as the “new golf”, which all friends and fellow travelers should feel free to bond over. Derrick and Emi have been good enough to list Zombie Ranch on their links page, and we’ve returned the favor. I know I’ve mentioned their site in the past, but doggone it I’ll mention it again. Check ’em out!