In his elegy to the Western hero, John Ford reveals the facts while printing the western legend. To examine what was at stake in transforming the western wilderness into a civilized garden, Ford sets up the opposition between James Stewart's Eastern lawyer Ranse Stoddard and Lee Marvin's brutal outlaw Liberty Valance, with John Wayne's archetypal hero Tom Doniphon forced to intervene. While Tom takes Stoddard's side in favor of the greater good, the spread of civilization comes at his own expense. Stoddard has to come to terms with the fact that the legendary words that fuel his success erase the truth of the genuine charismatic heroes; as a place of literary and cinematic legend, the West has no room for such veracity. Shot in black-and-white with few exteriors, Liberty Valance's melancholy nocturnal atmosphere matches the story's suggestion that the West's glory days have passed. Though not as highly regarded when it was released, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance has since come to be seen as one of Ford's greatest Westerns, and a key predecessor to such late '60s-'70s Western eulogies as The Wild Bunch (1969) and The Shootist (1976).