Classic Movie Quotes: 'Print the Legend' from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance


Today, I'm writing about the story behind the "print the legend" quote from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

This article is part of The Second Annual Classic Quotes Blogathon hosted by The Flapper Dame.

The quote "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend" from director John Ford's Western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) is one of the most resonant lines in movie history. It has been used as everything from a metaphor for Ford's own legendary career to a commentary on our present political situation.

"Print the legend" is spoken by a newspaper editor (Carleton Young) near the end of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Revered U.S. Sen. Ransom "Ranse"  Stoddard (James Stewart) has returned to the Western town of Shinbone for the funeral of an old friend, Tom Doniphon (John Wayne), and the editor of the Shinbone Star is eager to get the scoop on why the senator made the costly trip from Washington D.C. for a fairly obscure member of the community. Ranse is revered in the community for killing the dangerous outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), but, when pressed by the editor, he reveals that the truth behind Doniphon's involvement in the incident (clip below).


The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is based on a short story by Western writer Dorothy M. Johnson (her works, A Man Called Horse and The Hanging Tree, were also made into films). "Print the legend" does not appear in Johnson's story; in fact, Ranse, who is called Ransome Foster in the story, never reveals the truth to anyone other than his wife, Hallie (played by Vera Miles in the film). Screenwriters James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck added the scenes between Ranse and the newspaper editor both to provide a framing device for the plot -- the story is told in a long flashback -- and to make Ranse a more heroic figure than he was in the story.

According to the biography Searching for John Ford: A Life by Joseph McBride, Ford also somewhat altered the quote. In the original shooting script, the editor credits the "print the legend" quote to Dutton Peabody (Edmond O'Brien), the founder and original editor of the Shinbone Star, but Ford deleted this reference either during shooting or in the editing room.


Although The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was a big hit in 1962, virtually no one picked up on the resonance of "print the legend." It wasn't until the 1970s, when a younger generation of film critics hailed Ford as an auteur of the American West, that the quote was recognized as having a special significance in the great director's career. 

It's hard to say whether Ford, who was notoriously reluctant to discuss his own work, attached any significance to "print the legend." However,  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is quite clearly a statement by Ford about his own body of work, especially his creation of the Western myth in films like Stagecoach (1939) and My Darling Clementine (1945). In these films, a mythic hero (Wayne in the first film; Henry Fonda in the second) clears out a Western town with nothing more than a carbine rifle and his own righteous dignity. Ford draws back the curtain in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and reveals to his audience that the truth behind those legends was much more ambiguous than they had ever imagined (Wayne was reportedly furious when his assistant told him that his character was ambiguous, shouting "I don't like ambiguity. I don't trust ambiguity").

James Stewart, director John Ford, and John Wayne on the set of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).
"Print the legend" is now a part of pop culture. A Google search reveals that it is used in rap lyrics, Netflix documentaries about 3-D printing, and sports articles about golfer Arnold Palmer and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. However, the quote is most prevalent in political writing. A quick tour of the Internet finds websites of almost every political persuasion accusing their adversaries of "printing the legend" instead of giving the public the cold hard truth.

You can check out my entry in last year's blogathon here. It's about the "frankly, my dear" quote from Gone With the Wind (1939). 



The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance will air at 2 p.m. July 24 on TCM. It is also available on DVD, Blu-ray, and video on demand.


Comments

  1. Thanks for coming back for the second round of quotes- I like that you chose a quote that may have been slightly lesser known, but still very significant! Embarrassingly I have not yet seen The Man who shot Liberty Valance(despite the fact I do own it!) {sorry to my Grandfather- he loved John Wayne} but now I'm more interested in seeing it. I enjoyed reading about the background on Ford- as yes he is quite the legend himself!!!! Thanks again for writing! and see you around twitter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Watch and Download world's famous drama kurulus osman Season 1 with English
      ๐Ÿ‘‡
      Osman Season 1 with English


      Earn free 250$ without investment
      ๐Ÿ‘‡
      Ysense trusted network

      ๐Ÿ“ข Join Crypto quantum leap online Crypto course

      Read latest weird and interesting news online
      https://interestingnews.club

      Delete
  2. I was initially not a big Western fan when I started my classic film journey, but I have grown to enjoy them greatly. This film is among my favourites. As you said, that particular quote is very relevant to the film and to current situations in society today. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I had forgotten that's where the line originated. I remember the film as haunting, a reminder of the cost paid by those perceived as better than they are. It makes me wonder about Ford's own attitude toward his work.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have always liked the fact that the actor who quoted that line overcame the ignominy of his role in "Reefer Madness" to have a career that made that role just a bump in the road. I love the line, and can't imagine any other way to end the movie.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey, I just picked up a used copy of a John Ford biography called "Print the Legend".

    Great post! I didn't realize how pervasive this quote had become in our society.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Its a year later and I have no idea why I waited this long to watch the movie! IT WAS FANTASTIC and had to come back to your post about it!

    I think this is an amazing movie and it makes me think not only of Ford and Wayne and Westerns in terms of careers- but every other famous "legend". Duke and JS are perfect in their roles- what would have happened had they played each others parts? That would have been interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Use your Microsoft account through microsoft365.com/setup for everything you want to with Microsoft 365. Create an account or use the account of services such as OneDrive, Skype, Outlook, or Xbox Live. Use the site microsoft365.com/setup to download and install Microsoft 365 setup that will allow you to use multiple apps like Word, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, or more.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The Canon printer that can be downloaded via canon.com/ijsetup page is the best wireless printer that you can connect to your device and print data smoothly. Ij.start canon CD is not the well-suited technique to use ij.start.canon installation for longer. One can canon.com/ijsetup/mg2522 install from another origin if your device is having issues in the online installation or any other.Use ij.start cannon to set up your Canon product.Get started to Canon inkjet setup with guidelines of ij.start.cannon site.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This article is very useful to me. I read another article but this article is Excellent. Your choice is unique and knowledgeable. You are a good writer and a good thinker. You more articles made on the same topic. I am reading you’re articles. Thanks a lot for the information.

    A better quality printer supports high-speed printing and works on quality performance. If you have any question please our website - http//ij.start.canon

    ReplyDelete
  10. A Quick Guide to Canon Printer SetupMake sure your printer hardware is configured.
    On your PC browser, go to cannon.com/ijsetup Click Set Up.
    Using your Canon IJ printer model, the download printer software.
    Double click to install it.
    Connect a network to your printer and PC. microsoft365.com/setup allows you to download and activate the Microsoft Office setup. Microsoft 365 plans for personal and home provides robust Office desktop apps including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and OneNote.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Visit www.hp.com/go/wirelessprinting and open the door to the world of HP smart printing solutions. HP wireless printer is a versatile printing device that helps you print, scan, copy and fax your documents as per the requirement.
    Visit ij.start.canon | ij.start canon and find out the best way to download Canon printer drivers. Canon printers are ideal for every situation wherever you need a document, paper, or photo print or even if you wish to scan, fax, and do more ijstart.canon will make you learn how to set up a canon printer to get advanced printing features.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The Error code 0x0 0x0 is the name of an issue in your device which offers details about the particular failure, like the reason behind this error, which system is not working properly, and so on. It is possible that you will find this bug at various places on your device. If you are a technical person you can easily solve this problem but if you are a non-technical person you should get assistance from an expert. Stop the occurrence of this error and Fix Error 0x0 0x0.

    For More Information Visit Our Site: ij.start.canon | msn hotmail |
    tv.youtube tv/start |
    venmo login |
    coinbase pro login

    ReplyDelete
  13. Short Bedtime English Stories is a free app that gathers a lot of free english stories collection, and the interface design is simple. After opening, you can select the storybook you want to read, quickly scan at least more than 30 categories, and there are short stories free ,
    Animal Stories, Classic Stories, Bedtime Stories, Kid Stories, and English Stories .

    ReplyDelete
  14. Of course, your article is good enough, ์Šฌ๋กฏ์‚ฌ์ดํŠธ but I thought it would be much better to see professional photos and videos together. There are articles and photos on these topics on my homepage, so please visit and share your opinions.

    ReplyDelete
  15. With such a high level of on-demand and continuous support, your printer may break down or develop problems without warning. However, you can avoid this by making sure your printer is correctly setup. What if you're unfamiliar with your printer? How should it be installed properly to avoid any future problems? Don't be concerned; this Canon wireless printer setup instructions will assist you.
    canon wireless printer setup

    ReplyDelete
  16. Arlo is best recognised for both wired and wireless security cameras, and like any other electrical item, you'll need to upgrade the firmware on your Arlo. The Arlo firmware upgrade appears to be causing problems for the majority of consumers. But that is no longer the case, as you can now contact the Arlo customer support team at any moment to rectify the issue. To get the most out of your Arlo products, make sure the firmware is up to current. arlo pro firmware update

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hey friend, it is very well written article, thank you for the valuable and useful information you provide in this post. Keep up the good work! FYI,
    How to remove credit card from apple id, Good Vibes Good Life Book Pdf Download Free, 10 lines on Doctor in English, what age do huskies stop growing

    ReplyDelete

  18. For about 30 minutes WhatsApp web stays logged in after you close tab and once you open the web again, it will be able to access WhatsApp if your phone has an active internet connection. Such an alert is shown when someone is spying your WhatsApp through the web.The WhatsApp web activate notification means that your WhatsApp account has been logged in from another device. Usually, such notification appears when someone is spying on your WhatsApp through the web. When you do see such a notification, and if it is not you who has logged into your WhatsApp account via your laptop, then it can only mean that someone is viewing your WhatsApp.

    ReplyDelete
  19. your article so amazing and informative. Your writing skill is also very well. Your article is really addictive. Keep posting. keep sharing the knowledge. I love to read your articles.
    english short stories with moral value english stories What is the factorial of 100

    ReplyDelete
  20. Youtube.com/activate
    A YouTube activation code is created by the YouTube application on specific gadgets, such as Apple, Xbox Wii, etc., or other associated gadgets, which is executed through a Google account. The activation code is provided to reset the login process. To get a youtube.com/enact code for the app, customers need to sign in to their Google account through the Gmail or Google+ account linked to their YouTube account. a record is modified, the customer is prompted to provide access to their YouTube gadget and application
    youtubeactivity

    ReplyDelete
  21. you will need support or suggestions, write me privately.
    I interested in your implementation/use case.
    the best situs slot terbaik
    Togel2win
    daftar bo bonanza

    ReplyDelete
  22. From ij.start.canon, you can download the printer driver for your Canon printer that will further work on enhancing your experience. To know more about it, you must look at the given information.
    From ij.start.cannon, you can download the printer driver for your Canon printer that will further work on enhancing your experience. To know more about it, you must look at the given information.

    ReplyDelete
  23. IF you did not find a website where you can easily learn, how to install cannon printer driver. then give our site a visit ij.start.cannon we will try to help you and we have our customer care support where you can live talk to our customer care executive

    ReplyDelete
  24. Want to know where you can watch Movies, Tv series, or web series for free in 2021? FMovies - is the best platform to watch and download movies over the web. You can find all the latest Hollywood, Hollywood Dubbed Movies on FMovies Bollywood, and other movies on this site. It offers you to watch all the movies in high quality without paying a single penny. You also don’t have to go through any sign-up procedure to watch movies on Fmovies.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Get the import export data for Philippines Import Export Data at Importglobals. Philippines mostly import export Electrical machinery, Mineral fuels including oil, Machinery including computers, Vehicles, Iron, steel. Visit our website for more information in details.
    Philippines Import Data

    ReplyDelete
  26. This post amazing. Thanks for sharing this information. Please visit this site
    Olympus dao | Aave

    ReplyDelete
  27. Impressive and attractive post. I really like your blog.
    Kraken Wallet | Blockfi Credit Card

    ReplyDelete
  28. ya this is rally amazing post . i like this and I read this 3 times

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thank you for your additional information. This can help me a lot in the future.
    MetaMask Sign in | MetaMask Wallet

    ReplyDelete
  30. This is really helpful info. Thanks for sharing a wonderful content!
    Metamask Sign in | aol mail | Pro Coinbase

    ReplyDelete
  31. The most trusted platform for trading cryptocurrency Coinbase Pro offers individuals the ability to trade a variety of digital assets
    Pro Coinbase | Coinbase wallet Extension

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment