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Stagecoach (1939)

Stagecoach re-release film poster In 1880, a motley group of strangers boards the east-bound stagecoach from Tonto, Arizona Territory to Lordsburg, New Mexico Territory. Among them are Dallas, a prostitute who is being driven out of town by the members of the "Law and Order League"; an alcoholic doctor, Doc Boone; Lucy Mallory, who is traveling to see her cavalry officer husband; and whiskey salesman Samuel Peacock.

When the stage driver, Buck, looks for his normal shotgun guard, he is told by Marshal Curly Wilcox that he has gone out to look for a fugitive, the Ringo Kid. Buck tells Marshal Wilcox that Luke Plummer is in Lordsburg. Knowing that the Kid has vowed to avenge the deaths of his father and brother at Plummer's hands, the marshal decides to ride along.

As they start to pull out, U.S. cavalry Lieutenant Blanchard informs them that Geronimo and his Apaches are on the warpath. His small troop will provide an escort until they get to Dry Fork. Gambler and Southern gentleman Hatfield joins them to provide protection for Mrs. Mallory. At the edge of town, the stage is flagged down by pompous banker Henry Gatewood,, who is sneaking away with $50,000 embezzled from his bank.

Along the way, they come across the Ringo Kid, whose horse had become lame and left him afoot. Even though they are friends, Curly has no choice but to take Ringo into custody. As the trip progresses, Ringo takes a strong liking to Dallas.

When they reach Dry Fork, they are informed that the expected cavalry detachment has moved on to Apache Wells. The passengers vote on whether to press on or turn back. With only Peacock objecting, they go on and reach Apache Wells.

There, Mrs. Mallory faints when she hears that her husband had been wounded in battle. She begins to go into labor. Doc Boone is called upon to help her through her childbirth. Eventually, Dallas emerges with a healthy baby. Later that night, Ringo asks Dallas to marry him. She does not give him an immediate answer, afraid to reveal her checkered past, but the next morning, she agrees to marry him if he promises to give up his plan to take on the Plummers. Encouraged by Dallas, Ringo makes a break for it, but turns back when he sees signs of Indians.

When they reach Lee's Ferry, they find the station and the ferry burned down and the people either dead or having fled. They tie large logs to each side of the stagecoach and float it across the river. Just when they think that they are in the clear, the stagecoach is chased by the Apaches.

Curly releases the Kid from his handcuffs to help fight them off. During a long chase, when things look bleak, Hatfield is about to kill Mrs. Mallory with his last bullet to save her from being taken alive when he is fatally wounded. Just then, the 6th U.S. cavalry charges to the rescue.

When the passengers finally arrive in Lordsburg, Gatewood is arrested by the local sheriff, and Lucy is told that her husband's wound is not serious. Dallas begs Ringo not to go up against the Plummers, but he is determined to settle matters.

In the ensuing shootout, the Kid dispatches Luke and his two brothers. He returns to Wilcox, expecting to go back to jail. He asks the lawman to take Dallas to his ranch. However, when Ringo gets on a wagon to say goodbye to her, Curly and Doc laugh and start the horses moving, letting him "escape".

Directed by
John Ford

Produced by
Walter Wanger

Screenplay by
Dudley Nichols
Ben Hecht

Story by
Ernest Haycox

Cast
Claire Trevor as Dallas
John Wayne as The Ringo Kid
Andy Devine as Buck
John Carradine as Hatfield
Thomas Mitchell as Doc Boone
Louise Platt as Lucy Mallory
George Bancroft as Marshal Curly Wilcox
Donald Meek as Samuel Peacock
Berton Churchill as Henry Gatewood
Tim Holt as Lieutenant Blanchard
Tom Tyler as Luke Plummer
Yakima Canutt as Cavalry scout, uncredited stunt coordinator and second unit director
Chris-Pin Martin as Chris
Chief White Horse as Geronimo

Origins
The screenplay is an adaptation by Dudley Nichols of "The Stage to Lordsburg," a short story by Ernest Haycox. The rights to "Lordsburg" were bought by John Ford soon after it was published in Collier's magazine on April 10, 1937.

The movie was filmed in Monument Valley along the Arizona - Utah border.

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