They don’t write them like they used to

the man_who_shot_liberty_valanceWhen legend becomes fact, print the legend

I’m watching part of the ‘matinee’ Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, made in 1962 with James Stewart and John Wayne in a film together for the first time.

The dialogue is brilliant, the characters are alive and every single actor in it brings something to life when they speak. Compared to modern cinema with limp scripts and action jackson plots it’s great to watch something that has some balls and grit to it. True grit you could say..

There are so many characters with dialogue – the script allows a large cast to be a part of the story which adds depth and meaning to the overall film. You just don’t get the breadth in modern multiplex film. Scripts are so tightly focused now to the point where there are only ever a handful of characters featured and any extras have weak lines of no real consequence. The chances of upstaging the star(s) of the show are now miniscule.

Script writing seems to be a lost art in many respects. Old Hollywood used to pay writers on salary to pump out james stewart punches john waynestory after story. Despite that a lot of screenplays still managed to be creative and inventive in some way. Nostalgia can shine a turd sometimes but it’s not even a case of proclaiming the glory of the good old days. Film now, is largely vapid and synapse reducing formulaic garbage. I can’t remember the last smart script in a major release bar Django in the last three years or more. Dialogue truly is a dying art more so than storyline. Whether this is the financial strength of studios being showcased through hugely controlled processes of cinema I’m not sure.

This wasn’t meant to head into Tarantino territory but he’s almost a last bastion of hope for witty memorable dialogue and characters.

During my viewing a few realisations came to light:

  • James Stewart shouts his way through every scene.
  • Getting drunk throughout the day is not looked down upon but actively encouraged.
  • Mr. Wayne is incapable of going through a scene without ending a sentence with the trademark ‘pilgrim’.

Needless to say I recommend watching this masterpiece by John Ford.

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