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The world might soon get a remake of one of film’s classic stories. Word has it that there’s a new version of the John Wayne, James Stewart Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, in the works. But it's possible that this version will have a contemporary twist.
According to Variety the new version may take place in a more modern time and place – during the waning days of the steel and auto industries in Western Pennsylvania of the 1980s. Paramount is presently seeking a writer for the project.
The original film opens in 1910 and then takes the viewer on a film-long flashback to 25 years prior. James Stewart plays newly-minted lawyer Ransom Stoddard, who inadvertently gets into trouble with a notorious gunslinger named Liberty Valance, a man who works for a powerful crime syndicate that holds the area in constant fear.
Stoddard is constantly forced to rely on the help of another, equally feared, gunslinger played by John Wayne, Tom Doniphon. Doniphon is basically an honest man, and he’s also in love with Stoddard’s wife. This means that he will do anything to keep her happy, even if it means risking his own life to ensure her husband’s safety. When Stoddard is finally challenged to a showdown by Valance, he will soon find himself owing more than he could ever imagine to Doniphon.
Released in 1962 during the glut of Westerns Hollywood used to churn out on the big screen and on television, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance failed to gain much notice, even with the presence of two of filmdom’s major stars. It was considered just another cowboy opus without much special appeal. However, in more recent years it’s taken on the mantle of one of the great Westerns of all time.
How a remake of this movie fare at the box office? Who knows. I am, in general, opposed to the idea that every classic needs to get an updated treatment, whether it takes place in the same time period of the original film or is modernized in some other way. I’m not crazy about sequels for long-standing properties, either, but Mary Poppins is being forced to cross that bridge, so why not remake a classic cowboy pic?
I certainly understand the filmmakers desire to revisit the film, but find a way to update it. Let’s face it, once Westerns faded, they faded hard. Every now and then we get one that makes some noise, whether that’s on TV (Lonesome Dove) or in movies (Unforgiven). And even those tend to be so few and far between that we kind of forget the genre even exists until the next big deal, tradition western come around. There’s always hope though. I suppose that’s what movie making is really all about.