The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

1962 film by John Ford

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a 1962 Western in which a senator returns to a western town for the funeral of an old friend and tells the story of his origins.

Directed by John Ford. Screenplay by James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck. Adapted from a short story written by Dorothy M. Johnson.
James Stewart and John Wayne...Together for the First Time.
John Wayne and James Stewart
Vera Miles and James Stewart

Liberty Valance

  • You got a choice, Dishwasher. Either you get out of town, or tonight you be out on that street alone. You be there, and don't make us come and get you.

Tom Doniphon

  • You talk too much, think too much. Besides, YOU didn't kill Liberty Valance.
  • Liberty Valance's the toughest man south of the Picketwire - next to me.
  • Whoa, take'er easy there, Pilgrim.
  • I know those law books mean a lot to you, but not out here. Out here a man settles his own problems.
  • Pompey, go find Doc Willoughby. If he's sober, bring him back.
  • It ain’t mannerly, out West, let a fella drink by himself.
  • Well, Pompey, looks like we got ourselves a ladies man!

Dutton Peabody

  • I'd be a poor newspaperman indeed if I didn't know what everybody else knows!
  • A beer’s not drinking.
  • The unsteady hand betrays.
  • Liberty Valance defeated. D-E-F-E-E... T-E-D? The unsteady hand betrays. What's the matter, Mr. Peabody? Are you afraid? The answer is indub... yes. [Finding his liquor jug empty] No courage left. Well, courage can be purchased at yon tavern. But have we credit? That is the question. Have we credit? Well, credit is cheap. Wait for me, old servant of the public weal. Our shining hour is yet to come. As for you, Horace Greeley, go west, old man, and grow young with the country.
  • The jail's only got one cell, and the lock's broke and I sleep in it.


  • Jason Tully: Nothing's too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance.
  • Maj. Cassius Starbuckle: What kind of lawyer is he? He takes the law into his own hands. He has blood on his hands. The mark of Cain is on this man.


Ransom Stoddard: You're not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?
Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Dutton Peabody: [during voting for the territorial convention] I'll have the usual, Jack.
Jack, Barman: The bar is closed, Mister Editor, during voting.
Dutton Peabody: Bar's closed?
Tom Doniphon: You can blame your lawyer friend. He says that's one of the "Fundamental laws of democracy." No exception.
Dutton Peabody: No exceptions for the working press? Why, that's carrying democracy much too far!

Link Appleyard: Mr. Peabody's awful hurt and he needs you bad over at his office.
Liberty Valance: What's the matter, Mr. Marshal? Somebody have an accident?
Doc Willoughby: So that's it, another one of your 'accidents', huh Valance? I'm looking forward to the day when it's you they'll be calling me for.
Liberty Valance: [tossing Doc a silver dollar] Paid in advance.

Liberty Valance: You lookin' for trouble, Doniphon?
Tom Doniphon: You aim to help me find some?

Tom Doniphon: [Valance has tripped Rance in the diner, causing him to spill a tray of food] That's my steak, Valance.
Liberty Valance: [laughing] You heard him, Dude. Pick it up.
Ransom Stoddard: No!
Tom Doniphon: Pilgrim, hold it. I said you, Valance; you pick it up.
Liberty Valance: Three against one, Doniphon.
Tom Doniphon: My boy, Pompey; kitchen door.
[Valance looks and sees Pompey at the door holding a rifle]
Floyd: I'll get it, Liberty!
[Doniphon kicks Floyd in the face as he bends down to retrieve the tray]

Tom Doniphon: [after facing down Valance] Well, now; I wonder what scared 'em off?
Dutton Peabody: You know what scared 'em - the spectacle of law and order here, risin' up out of the gravy and the mashed potatoes.

Tom Doniphon: [reading Ransom Stoddard's shingle] 'Ransom Stoddard, At... torney at Law' You're a persistent cuss, pilgrim. You really aim to hang that up outside somewhere?
Ransom Stoddard: That's why I painted it.
Tom Doniphon: Well, take some advice, pilgrim. You put that thing up, you'll have to defend it with a gun... and you ain't exactly the type.

Floyd: It's Liberty! He - he's hurt!
[Doc approaches Valance's body]
Floyd: It's Liberty.
Doc Willoughby: Whiskey, quick.
Person on street: Here, sir.
Doc Willoughby: [takes a drink, turns Valance's body over with his foot] Dead.
[walks off]

Dutton Peabody: [protesting his nomination to the statehood convention] No! No! No you don't! No! I... I'm a newspaperman, not a politician! No, politicians are my meat - I build 'em up and I tear 'em down but I wouldn't be one I couldn't be one - it'd destroy me - gimme a...
Tom Doniphon: Bar's closed.
Dutton Peabody: Good people of Shinbone, I... I... I'm your conscience - I'm the still, small voice that thunders in the night. I'm your watchdog that howls against the wolves! I'm - I'm your father confessor! I... I... I'm... what else am I?
Tom Doniphon: Town drunk?