Stagecoach (1939)

95-96 mins | Western | 3 March 1939

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HISTORY

The American folk songs adapted for the score included the traditional ballads "Lily Dale," "Rosa Lee," "Joe Bowers," "Joe the Wrangler," "She's More to Be Pitied Than Censured," "She May Have Seen Better Days" and "Shall We Gather at the River?" Additional songs used for the score included the African-American spiritual "Careless Love;" "My Lulu," music and lyrics by Wilf Carter; "Gentle Annie" and "Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair," music and lyrics by Stephen Collins Foster ; "Ten Thousand Cattle," music and lyrics by Owen Wister; and "Trail to Mexico (Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie)," a traditional ballad whose strains are heard in the opening credits and throughout the film. A NYT article noted that John Wayne was borrowed from Republic, and that he "was the first star Republic has loaned to a major lot." According to HR pre-release news items, Andy Devine was borrowed from Universal and John Carradine was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox. A Jan 1939 HR news item notes that Republic had to postpone The Three Mesquiteers pictures which at that time starred Wayne, for six weeks because of Wayne's participation in Stagecoach . Contemporary information indicates that director John Ford had asked David O. Selznick to produce the film but Selznick turned him down. A biography of Ford notes that he spent $2,500 for the rights to the Ernest Haycox story on which the film was based, and further notes that in 1937, after co-writing a script with Dudley Nichols, Ford tried unsuccessfully to interest Darryl Zanuck at Twentieth Century-Fox. Other studios approached, according to the ... More Less

The American folk songs adapted for the score included the traditional ballads "Lily Dale," "Rosa Lee," "Joe Bowers," "Joe the Wrangler," "She's More to Be Pitied Than Censured," "She May Have Seen Better Days" and "Shall We Gather at the River?" Additional songs used for the score included the African-American spiritual "Careless Love;" "My Lulu," music and lyrics by Wilf Carter; "Gentle Annie" and "Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair," music and lyrics by Stephen Collins Foster ; "Ten Thousand Cattle," music and lyrics by Owen Wister; and "Trail to Mexico (Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie)," a traditional ballad whose strains are heard in the opening credits and throughout the film. A NYT article noted that John Wayne was borrowed from Republic, and that he "was the first star Republic has loaned to a major lot." According to HR pre-release news items, Andy Devine was borrowed from Universal and John Carradine was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox. A Jan 1939 HR news item notes that Republic had to postpone The Three Mesquiteers pictures which at that time starred Wayne, for six weeks because of Wayne's participation in Stagecoach . Contemporary information indicates that director John Ford had asked David O. Selznick to produce the film but Selznick turned him down. A biography of Ford notes that he spent $2,500 for the rights to the Ernest Haycox story on which the film was based, and further notes that in 1937, after co-writing a script with Dudley Nichols, Ford tried unsuccessfully to interest Darryl Zanuck at Twentieth Century-Fox. Other studios approached, according to the biography, were M-G-M, Paramount, Columbia and Warner Bros. Some modern sources indicate that Walter Wanger wanted Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich cast as the leads, but Ford insisted on Wayne and Claire Trevor. Stagecoach marked the first of three films in 1939 and 1940 in which Wayne and Trevor were paired as a romantic team. Modern sources note that the film was originally budgeted at $392,000, and cost over $500,000 to make. Gerard Carbonara, according to modern sources, worked on the score. Stagecoach was Ford's first picture using Monument Valley, Utah as a location. In addition to Monument Valley, contemporary sources note that scenes were shot on location at Kern River near Kernville, Fremont Pass at Newhall, Muroc Dry Lake near Victorville, Chatsworth and Calabasas, CA, and Kayenta and Mesa, AZ. According to publicity items, the picture was produced with the cooperation of the Navajo-Apache Indian agencies and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Modern sources have frequently indicated that Stagecoach elevated Wayne's career above "B" status, and raised the status of Westerns from the "B" to "A" level as well. However, according to contemporary sources, Stagecoach was one of several Westerns made between late 1938 and early 1939 that were produced on large budgets including, Union Pacific , Jesse James , Dodge City and Stand Up and Fight . In a NYT article on 25 Dec 1938, Hollywood-based writer Douglas W. Churchill noted that "The arroyos and the canyons of the West are resounding to the declamations of the glamour boys astride their pintos. The raucous-voiced independent cowboy stars have surrendered the deserts to the higher-priced performers..." NYT writer Frank S. Nugent wrote an article for the paper in Mar 1939 in which he expressed similar thoughts: "We've formed the habit of taking our horse operas in a Class B stride...But all that is now changed." Nugent went on to say, "But if, in principle, we look askance upon the grand horse opera, in practice we must admit a wholly immature delight over... Stagecoach ...he [Ford] has taken the old formula...and has applied himself and his company to it with the care, zeal and craftsmanship that might have been accorded the treatment of a bright new theme." Stagecoach was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Picture. Thomas Mitchell received an Academy Award for his supporting role as "Doc Boone," and Richard Hageman, Franke Harling, John Leipold and Leo Shuken received an Academy Award for their score. Although Louis Gruenberg was also credited with the score, his name was not included in the nomination. Stagecoach also made the National Board of Review's ten best list, and Ford was honored as best director of 1939 by the New York Film Critics. Wayne and Trevor recreated their roles in a 1946 radio broadcast, introduced by John Ford, and Trevor and Randolph Scott appeared in a radio version in 1946. Stagecoach was remade by Martin Rackin Productions in 1966, directed by Gordon Douglas and starring Ann-Margret and Alex Cord (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ; F6.4677). A made-for-television movie of the story, directed by Ted Post and starring Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, aired on the CBS network on 18 May 1986. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Feb 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
15 Feb 39
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 38
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Nov 38
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 38
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 39
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 39
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 39
p. 3.
Life
27 Feb 39
pp. 31-32.
Motion Picture Daily
7 Feb 39
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
31 Dec 38
p. 40.
Motion Picture Herald
11 Feb 39
p. 35.
New York Times
25 Dec 1938.
---
New York Times
3 Mar 39
p. 21.
New York Times
12 Mar 1939.
---
Variety
8 Feb 39
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Special photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus cond
Mus score based on American folk songs adpt by
Mus score based on American folk songs adpt by
Mus score based on American folk songs adpt by
Mus score based on American folk songs adpt by
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Asst prog mgr
Still photog
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Stage to Lordsburg" by Ernest Haycox in Collier's (Apr 1937).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 March 1939
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 2 February 1939
Production Date:
early November 1938--7 January 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Walter Wanger Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 February 1939
Copyright Number:
LP8662
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
95-96
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
5029
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

The Overland stagecoach from Tonto, Arizona, to Lordsburg, New Mexico, leaves town with eight people on board. In the front, sit Buck the driver and Marshal Curley Wilcox, who is riding shotgun to protect the stage from hostile Indians and from the Plummer brothers, a vicious band of outlaws. The passengers consist of Doc Josiah Boone, the town drunk; Dallas, a woman of ill repute, who, like Doc, has been banished from town; the pregnant Lucy Mallory, who is taking the stage to meet her husband, a cavalry officer, and is treated gallantly by her fellow passenger, Hatfield, a gambler; Gatewood, the town's sanctimonious banker who mouths respectability while clutching a carpet bag filled with stolen money; and Peacock, a timid whiskey drummer. Because of an Apache uprising by Geronimo, the cavalry escorts the coach to the first station at Dry Fork. Along the way, Buck stops to pick up the Ringo Kid, who has escaped from prison to seek revenge on the Plummers, who killed his family and sent him to jail on false testimony. After Curley arrests Ringo, the stage continues on to Dry Fork, where they discover that there are no troops to escort them farther. Voting to continue on alone, they reach the next stop, where their journey is delayed when Mrs. Mallory, learning that her husband has been wounded, goes into premature labor. Doc sobers up to deliver the baby, and as they await Mrs. Mallory's recovery, Dallas and Ringo fall in love and Dallas urges Ringo to escape. Ringo is on the verge of leaving when he sees Apache war signals, and the passengers hastily board the ... +


The Overland stagecoach from Tonto, Arizona, to Lordsburg, New Mexico, leaves town with eight people on board. In the front, sit Buck the driver and Marshal Curley Wilcox, who is riding shotgun to protect the stage from hostile Indians and from the Plummer brothers, a vicious band of outlaws. The passengers consist of Doc Josiah Boone, the town drunk; Dallas, a woman of ill repute, who, like Doc, has been banished from town; the pregnant Lucy Mallory, who is taking the stage to meet her husband, a cavalry officer, and is treated gallantly by her fellow passenger, Hatfield, a gambler; Gatewood, the town's sanctimonious banker who mouths respectability while clutching a carpet bag filled with stolen money; and Peacock, a timid whiskey drummer. Because of an Apache uprising by Geronimo, the cavalry escorts the coach to the first station at Dry Fork. Along the way, Buck stops to pick up the Ringo Kid, who has escaped from prison to seek revenge on the Plummers, who killed his family and sent him to jail on false testimony. After Curley arrests Ringo, the stage continues on to Dry Fork, where they discover that there are no troops to escort them farther. Voting to continue on alone, they reach the next stop, where their journey is delayed when Mrs. Mallory, learning that her husband has been wounded, goes into premature labor. Doc sobers up to deliver the baby, and as they await Mrs. Mallory's recovery, Dallas and Ringo fall in love and Dallas urges Ringo to escape. Ringo is on the verge of leaving when he sees Apache war signals, and the passengers hastily board the stage to make a desperate dash to Lordsburg. Just as they think the danger has passed, the Apaches attack at a dry lake bed, wounding Peacock and Buck and killing Hatfield. At the last minute, the cavalry rides to the rescue and escorts the stage to Lordsburg, where Gatewood is arrested for embezzlement. There, Curley grants Ringo his freedom so that he can avenge the murder of his family, and after gunning down the Plummers, Ringo and Dallas ride off into the night to begin life anew at his ranch across the border. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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