How well do you know "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"?

By: Torrance Grey
Image: Paramount Pictures

About This Quiz

One of the classic movie Westerns, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," was about changing times on the American frontier -- the rule of law versus the rule of the gun. Think you remember a lot about this epic film? Test your knowledge with our quiz!

Who played Ranse Stoddard?

The movie poster trumpeted "Together for the first time!" John Wayne and Stewart were both headliners in the 1950s and 1960s.

Who played Liberty Valance?

The other Lee, Lee Van Cleef, played one of Valance's henchmen. Or, as the eloquent newspaper editor puts it, one of Valance's "Myrmidons."

What is the name of the town where "Liberty Valance" is set?

We're sure there is a colorful back-story to how this town got its name. Unfortunately, the movie fails to share it with us.

As the film opens, what office does Ranse Stoddard hold?

As the film opens, Stoddard is returning to Shinbone as a respected U.S. senator. Most of the movie, though, takes place decades earlier, when Stoddard held a much humbler station in life.

Who has just died, when the movie opens?

Stoddard has come home for Doniphon's funeral. This raises eyebrows for the local newsmen, who don't see what makes Doniphon so important to a man like Stoddard.

How did Liberty Valance get his first name?

Liberty Valance's name is never explained, at least not in the film. There was a stage play and a short story that preceded it, though, either of which might have fleshed out the backstory.

Where does Link Appleyard drive Hallie?

Hallie observes a burnt section of Doniphon's farmhouse and says, "He never did finish that room." We learn the story behind this as the movie unfolds.

"Ranse" is short for what name?

"Ranse" Stoddard puts his full name on his sign: "Ransom Stoddard, Attorney at Law." As Hallie predicts, Liberty Valance shoots the sign until it falls apart.

With which of these did Ransom Stoddard NOT head west?

Before the long flashback begins, Stoddard tells the Star editor and others assembled that he came west with his father's watch, his law books, and $14.80 in cash. Unfortunately, he loses all that in a robbery committed by Valance and his gang.

What political issue are the residents of Shinbone and its surrounding area debating?

Water rights do come into play, though. If the territory becomes a state, then there will be money to dam the river, and more people can farm and garden.

Who opposes statehood?

Most of the people of Shinbone want statehood, which will bring schools, better law enforcement and a river-damming project to the town. The cattlemen want "open range" -- freedom to run their cattle where they want and do mostly as they please.

What is the name of the town's newspaper?

This might seem like a pretty small piece of trivia, but the Shinbone Star is important to the plot of "Liberty Valance." News and editorials about the statehood issue get a lot of people riled up -- the townsfolk, and Valance himself.

What is the name of the river near Shinbone?

A lot is made of who lives "north of the Picket Wire" and who lives south. That is, the north is mostly rich cattlemen and their open range.

Other than a gun, what weapon does Liberty Valance carry?

Valance, a bully, likes to beat up on his victims, not just cleanly shoot them. Stoddard recognizes Valance, the second time he sees him, by the whip he carries.

What is Tom Doniphon's job?

Though Doniphon is the only man in Shinbone whom Valance fears, he doesn't have a law-and-order role like watchman or hangman. He's just a tough rancher who takes care of business himself.

From what country are Pete and Nora?

Pete runs the town's only diner, where everyone seems to eat. Pete and Nora have given up Swedish meatballs and ableskivers for frontier food like steak, beans, and mashed potatoes.

What secret does Stoddard learn about Hallie while working in the kitchen?

Stoddard embarrasses Hallie by asking her to read something, which forces her to admit her secret. He makes up for it by offering to teach her to read and write.

Hallie is the first person Stoddard offers to teach to read. Who is the second?

Stoddard is enthusiastic about teaching both women to read and write. Before long, he has opened a one-room school off the newspaper office. Julietta, if you didn't recognize the name, is one of his young Mexican students.

Which of these is NOT the name of a minor character in "Valance"?

Shinbone is full of characters with colorful names. "Oscar" might not have been creative enough.

Who is Pompey?

Pompey was played by Woody Strode, a former football star at UCLA. He also notably played an Ethiopian gladiator in "Spartacus."

What role does Link Appleyard fill (badly) in Shinbone?

Appleyard, played by Andy Devine, was comic relief in the movie. He gets steaks on credit at Pete's -- a chalkboard full of X's counts up his debt -- and avoids confrontation at any cost.

What flower does Hallie particularly like?

Early in the movie, the older Hallie goes out to Tom Doniphon's ranch to see cactus roses in bloom. When she was younger, Doniphon brought her a cactus in bloom while she was working in the kitchen of Pete's place.

Who is considered the town drunk?

At the statehood meeting, as Peabody tries to summarize his role in Shinbone, someone suggests "town drunk" to general laughter. But he's got competition -- Doc Willoughby likes his tipple, too, which is why one character asks for Doc Willoughby to be summoned "if he's sober."

For which famous American did the editor, Peabody, once work?

Greeley was a newspaperman best known for the saying, "Go west, young man, and grow up with the country." This was the same advice that Stoddard was taking when he headed West with his law books.

What is Doniphon creating for Hallie at his ranch?

It's not clear what the spare room is for, since the newlyweds would share a bedroom. Possibly it's a nursery for their children, a parlor for entertaining guests, or a sewing room -- any of these would be typical for the time.

In what year was "Liberty Valance" released?

Though it looks like a classic 1950s film, the dirty secret behind its black-and-white filming was that Paramount was keeping costs down -- this according to the film's director of photography. Incidentally, by 1962, John Wayne was 53 and James Stewart was 52, both a bit long in the tooth for romantic action heroes.

Which character does Stoddard punch in the face?

During target practice, Doniphon shoots at a paint can while Stoddard is still setting up the cans on the fence. This splatters Stoddard's suit with paint, and Ranse is angry enough to punch him in the face over it, though Doniphon claims it was only a lesson in the kind of dirty tricks Valance will pull.

Whom does Stoddard nominate for delegate to the statehood convention?

Stoddard knows that Doniphon has the respect of the people, even more than he himself does. Doniphon, however, refuses the honor and nominates Stoddard himself.

Who is the third candidate for delegate (beside Stoddard and Peabody)?

Valance has come to bully the townspeople into voting for him, so he can then support the cattlemen's position at the statehood convention. But only his two henchmen will vote for him, so Valance isn't elected.

Why does Stoddard agree to meet Valance in the street?

Valance, angry at things Peabody has written about him, beats and whips the newspaperman while he's alone in his office (and drunk). Stoddard, after finding Peabody, says that he'll wait for Valance in the street.

Who actually shot Liberty Valance?

Doniphon reveals that he shot Valance from the shadows at the same time that Stoddard fired at him directly. Stoddard believes his shot killed Valance, until Doniphon clears it up.

Why does Doniphon tell Stoddard the truth about the shooting?

Cassius Starbuckle launches an attack on Stoddard on the convention floor, saying that a man who killed another in the street is undeserving of political office. Stoddard seems to agree, and walks out -- where he fatefully meets up with Doniphon.

Who saves Doniphon from the fire at his house?

Doniphon sets fire to the unfinished addition to his house, because he's drunk and angry over his presumed loss of Hallie to Stoddard. Pompey, his long-suffering ranchhand, pulls him from the flames.

What are Stoddard's plans, at the movie's end?

His idea makes Hallie very happy. She's wanted to return to her roots for a while.

Who directed "Liberty Valance"?

John Ford was known for his Westerns. He began working in the age of silent film, and made about 140 pictures during his career.

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