STAGECOACH! A 1939 Western Masterpiece! One of John Wayne’s Best!

Even as this Movie begins, the music is very exciting letting the Viewer know a great Movie is now being shown. If you’ve never seen a very good Western Movie about the Old West. This is one of the very BEST!

Stagecoach is a 1939 American Western film directed by John Ford and starring Claire Trevor and John Wayne in his breakthrough role. The screenplay by Dudley Nichols is an adaptation of “The Stage to Lordsburg”, a 1937 short story by Ernest Haycox. The film follows a group of strangers riding on a stagecoach through dangerous Apache territory.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Ford
Produced byWalter Wanger
Screenplay byDudley Nichols
Based on“The Stage to Lordsburg”
by Ernest Haycox
StarringClaire TrevorJohn WayneAndy DevineJohn CarradineThomas MitchellLouise PlattGeorge BancroftDonald MeekBerton ChurchillTim Holt
Music byRichard HagemanFranke HarlingLouis GruenbergJohn LeipoldLeo ShukenGerard Carbonara (uncredited)Stephen Pasternacki (uncredited)
CinematographyBert Glennon
Edited byOtho LoveringDorothy Spencer
Walter Wanger Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release dateFebruary 2, 1939 (Los Angeles)[1]March 3, 1939 (U.S.)[1]
Running time96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,103,757[2]

Stagecoach was the first of many Westerns that Ford shot using Monument Valley, in the American Southwest on the ArizonaUtah border, as a location, many of which also starred John Wayne. Scenes from Stagecoach, including a sequence introducing John Wayne’s character the Ringo Kid, blended shots of Monument Valley with shots filmed on the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, CaliforniaRKO Encino Movie Ranch, and other locations. Similar geographic incongruencies are evident throughout the film, up to the closing scene of Ringo (Wayne) and Dallas (Trevor) departing Lordsburg, in southwestern New Mexico, by way of Monument Valley.

The film has long been recognized as an important work that transcends the Western genre. Philosopher Robert B. Pippin has observed that both the collection of characters and their journey “are archetypal rather than merely individual” and that the film is a “mythic representation of the American aspiration toward a form of politically meaningful equality.”[3] In 1995, the film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in their National Film Registry.[4][4] Still, Stagecoach has not avoided controversy. Like most Westerns of the era, its depiction of Native Americans as simplistic savages has been criticized.[5]


In June 1880, a group of strangers boards the stagecoach from Tonto, Arizona Territory, to Lordsburg, New Mexico. Among them are Dallas, a prostitute driven out of town by the “Law and Order League”; the alcoholic Doc Boone; pregnant Lucy Mallory, who is travelling to join her cavalry officer husband; and whiskey salesman Samuel Peacock, whose samples Doc Boone takes charge of and starts drinking.

When the stage driver, Buck, looks for his shotgun guard, Marshal Curley Wilcox tells him that the guard is off searching for a fugitive. The Ringo Kid has broken out of prison after hearing that his father and brother had been murdered by Luke Plummer. Buck tells Curley that Ringo is heading for Lordsburg and, knowing that Ringo has vowed vengeance, Curley decides to ride along as guard.

As the stage sets out, U.S. Cavalry Lieutenant Blanchard announces that Geronimo and his Apaches are on the warpath; his small troop will provide an escort to Dry Fork. Upon seeing her distress, gambler and Southern gentleman Hatfield offers his protection to Mrs. Mallory and climbs on. At the edge of town, another passenger flags down the stage: an assertive banker Henry Gatewood, who is absconding with money embezzled from his bank.

Further along the road, the stage comes across the Ringo Kid, stranded after his horse has gone lame. Even though they are friends, Curley has to take Ringo into custody and crowds him too into the coach. But when they reach Dry Fork, the expected cavalry detachment has gone on to Apache Wells. Buck wants to turn back, but most of the party vote to proceed. At lunch before departing, the group is taken aback when Ringo invites Dallas to sit at the main table. Hatfield offers Mrs. Mallory his silver folding cup, rather than have her drink from the canteen directly. She recognizes the family crest on the cup and asks Hatfield whether he was ever in Virginia. He says that he served in the Confederate Army under her father’s command.

On arriving at Apache Wells, Mrs. Mallory learns that her husband had been wounded in battle. When she faints and goes into labor, Doc Boone has to sober up and deliver the baby with Dallas assisting. Later that night, Ringo asks Dallas to marry him and live on a ranch he owns in Mexico. Afraid to reveal her past, she does not answer immediately. The next morning, she accepts, but does not want to leave Mrs. Mallory and the new baby, so she tells Ringo to go on alone to his ranch, where she will meet him later. As Ringo is escaping he sees smoke signals heralding an Apache attack and returns into custody.

The stage reaches Lee’s Ferry, which Apaches have destroyed. Curley uncuffs Ringo to help lash logs to the stagecoach and float it across the river. Just when they think that danger has passed, the Apaches attack and a long chase scene follows, where some of the party are injured fighting off their pursuers. Just as they run out of ammunition and Hatfield is getting ready to save Mrs Mallory from capture by killing her with his last bullet, the 6th U.S. Cavalry rides to the rescue.

At Lordsburg, Gatewood is arrested by the local sheriff and Mrs. Mallory learns that her husband’s wound is not serious. She thanks Dallas, who gives Mrs. Mallory her shawl. Dallas then begs Ringo not to confront the Plummers, but he is determined to settle matters and as they walk through town he sees the brothel to which she is returning. Luke Plummer, who is playing poker in one of the saloons, hears of Ringo’s arrival and gets his brothers to join him. Ringo survives the three-against-one shootout that follows and then surrenders to Curley, expecting to go back to prison. As Ringo boards a wagon, Curley invites Dallas to ride with them to the edge of town, but when she does so Curley and Doc stampede the horses, letting Ringo “escape” with Dallas toward the Mexican border.