Redemption Aimed At In “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance?”

An article by Marvin Olaskey got me thinking about this and pushed me to come up with my own slightly different take.


In the film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” film-maker John Ford demonstrates in the villain’s name and character (played by Lee Marvin) that Liberty expressed as malevolence (Hence the name Valance?) is the worst kind of license.

The character played by Jimmy Stewart is named “Ransom Stoddard.” In the film Ransom is willing to surrender his life (as a ransom) in an attempt to rid the town of the malevolence of the license brought by “Liberty Valance.” And that is what everybody thinks happened as Ranse is universally thought of as “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

The town Sheriff is aptly named “Sheriff Appleyard” (played by Andy Devine). Appleyard is a bumbling but lovable fool with no real authority in the town. Devine was Barney Fife before Barney Fife was Barney Fife. The Sheriff’s last name is interesting though if only because man showed himself a fallen fool as happening in a “Appleyard.” No real help against the license of Liberty Valance is going to come from the fallen Sheriff Appleyard.

In the climax of the film, everyone has abandoned Ranse as he faces down Liberty Valance in a gun fight wherein Ranse is clearly overmatched. It is dark out. Here we see themes of Jesus being abandoned by all while all is still dark. Ranse is rescued by Tom Doniphon’s (played by John Wayne) surreptitious gunslinging thus providing a ransom for Ransom.
Because of Doniphon’s heroics he loses the girl (played by Vera Miles) to Ranse Stoddard. Could it be that the name Hallie in the film is short for Hallelujah?

“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” is indeed a tale about Liberty and how liberty can easily turn into license. It’s also a tale about how true liberty has to put down false liberty in order for all people to enjoy true liberty, but it’s also a tale about how a town is ransomed so that everyone can say “Hallelujah.” Finally, it might be taken as a tale that teaches that the true hero who provides the real ransom sometimes is not recognized by those whom he provided the ransom.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

3 thoughts on “Redemption Aimed At In “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance?””

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *