Stagecoach (1966)

Genres - Action, Western  |   Release Date - Apr 22, 1966 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 114 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The 1966 Stagecoach is definitely one of those films that makes movie aficionados shake their heads and say, "Why?" Not because the movie on its own terms is a disaster, but because it inevitably invites comparisons to the classic 1939 version, and it falls dreadfully short in almost all departments. If, however, one has never seen the 1939 version and can take this one strictly on its own terms, the experience is not unpleasant; for, objectively, this Stagecoach is certainly adequate entertainment. It even has, in Bing Crosby's sensitive, subtle portrayal of the drunken doctor a performance that is quite impressive. The same cannot be said for the rest of the cast, whose performances range from the acceptable but no more (Ann-Margret, Keenan Wynn) to the flat but fairly effective (Alex Cord, Van Heflin) to the annoying (Red Buttons, Mike Connors). Gordon M. Douglas's direction is serviceable and obvious where John Ford's was inspired. Changes to the screenplay -- such as the stagecoach passengers defeating the Indian attack unaided by the cavalry -- are usually for the worse, but on the whole the script is no worse than those of dozens of other average Westerns. Undiscriminating viewers will find Stagecoach indistinguishable from many other examples of the genre -- something that can't be said about the original.