Stage Coach is about a stage coach that is headed across the country with six passengers on board, a driver and a sheriff, who is riding shot gun. Another rider played by John Wayne joins them on the stage coach later on. They have to brave the wild frontier with Native Americans who might attack them at any moment because there are not many soldiers available for protection. Character development occurs with a crooked banker who is trying to steal some money, a woman who is looking for her husband and is about to have a baby and a gun slinger played by John Wayne and called the Ringo Kid, who is supposed to be in prison but instead plans on taking on the Plumber gang who apparently were responsible for the death of his brother.
The acting in this movie is fantastic. John Wayne does a great performance as a drifter and gun slinger who has a vendetta with the Plummer gang. Some of the characters are amusing like the doctor and alcohol salesmen. Some of the characters are strong like the sheriff and the gentleman who is well played by John Carradine. Also, there are a couple of women who are nice look at, particularly the blonde who is a woman of ill repute, but I think she gives a great performance.
There are a couple of action scenes in this movie. However, most of this most seems to be based around the character development, who are certainly interesting enough to make this my second favorite John Wayne movie. There is an exciting stage coach chase, though, with some Native Americans chasing the stage coach and the people on the stage coach fighting them off. They eventually run out of bullets and are almost done for, but in a classic western moment the cavalry shows up to save them just in time. Then John Wayne has his final confrontation with the Plummer gang.
Some of the characters in this movie were mostly meant for comic relief such as the doctor and alcohol salesman. The doctor in particular steals parts of the movie with how good he is. He’s got a great, upbeat, debaucherous persona to him. When he leaves the town with the woman of ill repute they are sent off by some ladies of the town who think they are better than other people. The doctor jokes about this. I feel like when I graduate from my college it might be the same way with me.
There is some considerable suspense in this movie with the stage coach driving through the west without any soldiers to guard them on the road or at any of the out posts and Native Americans closing in on them all of the time. When the stage coach is chased, they run out of bullets and are almost caught that also adds some considerable suspense to the movie.
John Wayne plays his typical gun slinger self as the Ringo Kid. John Wayne was pretty young when he made this movie. Some other great characters were the amusing doctor, the southern gentleman played by John Carradine, the tough sheriff who wants to arrest Ringo but actually has John Wayne’s best interests at heart and the amusing stage coach driver. Gatewood was the one character in the group who I did not like. He poses as a respectable person, but is actually a criminal, and he seems to get on the bad side of pretty much everybody with his loud mouth, irritability and only thinking of himself. Peacock, the alcohol salesman, was kind of a wimpy character and did not have much of an influence in the movie aside from supplying the good doctor with some alcohol occasionally.
One of the women in this movie is looking for her husband and is about to have a child. She is supposed to be a lady, but I did not think she was nearly as great as the other woman on the stage coach who John Wayne also gains an interest in. She is not very tough, but I like her attitude and she is attractive.
The villains in this movie are not well developed. Native Americans attack the stage coach and they are the biggest villains for most of the movie, but they do not get any lines and only show up during the confrontation. The Plummer gang gets a little more development with their feud with John Wayne. However, it seems strange that people would be so eager to keep John Wayne away from them because John Wayne takes them down with ease.
The music in this movie is very upbeat and great. The setting for this movie is the great western countryside and desert. It’s the perfect setting to set a movie that is centered around a stage coach ride. You can see for miles around, which conveys a feeling of isolation for the people on the stage coach because there is nothing in sight.
Stage Coach is I think John Wayne’s first really good movie. John Wayne made around one hundred westerns early in his career during the late 1920s and 1930s, but I feel that most of those movies were highly forgettable and generic. This movie made in the late 1930s is the first John Wayne movie that I feel really allowed John Wayne to shine as an accomplished actor and go on to have a much better movie career during the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s before wrapping his career up in the 1970s as the Shootist.