The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), perhaps the greatest of Westerns, contains this gem of a scene with John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Jimmy Stewart, Strother Marvin, Lee Van Cleef and Woody Strode. Marvin as Liberty Valance is the archetypal mercenary gunslinger, his days, and the days of his kind, about to come to an end. Wayne as Tom Doniphon, rancher, is the obverse of Marvin, a man just as tough as Valance, if not tougher, but no bully. However, his time is also closing. Their destroyer? The almost clown like figure of Ransom Stoddard, portrayed by Jimmy Stewart. He knows nothing about guns, but he knows a lot about law, and law and civilization are fast coming to the range. This is John Ford’s eulogy to the Old West, and to this type of Western.
Bonus: the verbal joust of John Carridine, Major Cassius Starbuckle, v. Edmond O’Brien, Dutton Peabody, where the meaning of the film is made explicit:
With this film Ford added a memorable legend to the many legends of the Old West: