Stagecoach (1966 film)
Theatrical poster design by Norman Rockwell
|Directed by||Gordon Douglas|
|Produced by||Martin Rackin|
|Written by||Screenplay by
Based on a screenplay by
From a story by
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Cinematography||William H. Clothier A.S.C.|
|Edited by||Hugh S. Fowler, A.C.E.|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$4 million (US/ Canada)|
Stagecoach is a 1966 American film, directed by Gordon Douglas as a remake of the John Ford classic black-and-white western Stagecoach, which won two Academy Awards and received five other nominations, including placement among 1939's ten Academy Award for Best Picture contenders, a rare distinction for a western. Taking a differently focused casting approach from the then-27-year-old original version which listed its ten leading players in order of importance, the story's ten central characters were portrayed in 1966 by major stars billed in alphabetical order.
Cast comparison with the 1939 version
In parallel with the 1939 version, Ann-Margret, who is listed first, replaces first-billed Claire Trevor as the dancehall hostess/prostitute Dallas. Red Buttons, in second place, takes the role of Mr. Peacock, the alcohol peddler in a minister's garb, played in 1939 by 8th-billed Donald Meek. Third-placed Michael Connors portrays the tough gambler, Hatfield, originated by fourth-listed John Carradine. Alphabetically-fourth Alex Cord is the Ringo Kid, the role that made second-billed John Wayne into a star beyond the quickly made low-budget B-western series which had primarily represented his screen appearances during the 1930s. In fifth place is Bing Crosby, making his final major acting appearance in a theatrical feature, playing the alcoholic Doc Boone, bringing his own interpretation to the character portrayal which won fifth-billed Thomas Mitchell the 1939 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Sixth-placed Bob Cummings plays the embezzling banker Gatewood, a role assigned in 1939 to 9th-billed Berton Churchill, while seventh in line Van Heflin is the marshal, Curley, played in the original by 7th-billed George Bancroft. The eighth alphabetical position is taken by Slim Pickens as the coach driver, Buck, initially portrayed by third-billed Andy Devine, while ninth place falls to Stefanie Powers as the pregnant Army wife, Lucy Mallory, played in 1939 by the 6th-billed Louise Platt. At the end of the alphabetical cast, Keenan Wynn, in tenth place, is Luke Plummer, the patriarch of a family of killers, portrayed in 1939 by western star Tom Tyler, billed 11th in the end credits. Finally, 12th-billed supporting player Joseph Hoover portrays the Lieutenant, a character originated by Tim Holt, who was listed 10th in the 1939 credits.
Also in the cast, playing their sole credited film roles, were two artists, 15th-billed David Humphreys Miller, a 47-year-old western historian who specialized in the culture of the northern Plains Indians and created, among his works, 72 portraits of the survivors of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and 20th-billed Norman Rockwell, 71 years old, who was engaged to be on the set in order to paint the portraits of the stars and assigned the small role of a town poker player nicknamed Busted Flush. The film's closing-credits sequence features the full-screen inscription, THE CAST AS PAINTED BY NORMAN ROCKWELL, followed by images of each of the ten cast members in the same order as in the opening credits. The portraits were also used in the poster for the film.
Evaluation in film guides
Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide (2014 edition) gave Stagecoach 2½ stars (out of 4), describing it as a "[C]olorful, star-studded Western" which "is OK, but can't hold a candle to the 1939 masterpiece". Maltin also calls it "[O]verlong" and notes that "Wayne Newton sings the title song!". Steven H. Scheuer's Movies on TV (1972–73 edition) also granted 2½ stars (out of 4), characterizing it "[A]n all-star remake of the classic" and evaluating that "[T]he Ford version was better, but the action is still pretty good the second time around". A later edition (1986–87) shortened the capsule review to "[A]n all-star…" and "[A]ction is still pretty good…". A still later edition (1993–1994) retained "[A]n all-star", but revised the second sentence to "[D]oesn't live up to its predecessor, but OK on its own terms".
Assigning 2 stars (out of 5), The Motion Picture Guide (1987) posited that "[Wh]y Hollywood insists on remaking classics will always be a puzzle. John Ford's 1939 version of the Haycox story was a genuine western classic and this is a genuine western omelette"The presence of Crosby, in his last acting job in movies, saves the movie from being a total mess. In 1986, a TV version of the picture was done with several country music stars in the leads, as well as Liz Ashley and Anthony Newley. It was so awful, it made this movie look good by comparison". Later in its write-up, The Guide opines that "[W]hereas the original had engaging characters and not all that much violence, this one concentrates on bloodletting, the dialog is a failed attempt to be 'adult', and the performances are generally substandard. Norman Rockwell appears briefly. He'd done the excellent portraits of the actors used with the end credit and they rewarded him with a role in the picture, his first and only. Wayne Newton sings 'Stagecoach to Cheyenne' (Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance). It's the kind of song one dislikes upon first hearing and hates upon the second".
VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever (2011 edition) does not have a separate entry for the 1966 version but, at the end of its write-up for the 1939 classic is the sentence, "Remade miserably with [sic] in 1966 and again—why?—as a TV movie in 1986".
Among British references, TimeOut Film Guide critic Paul Taylor advised to "[L]ook again at the credits before you're tempted: this is the witless remake of Ford's classic, with neither colour nor Cord anything like adequate recompense for Bert Glennon's dusty monochrome or Wayne's early strut as the Ringo Kid" (from 2009 edition). Leslie Halliwell in his Film Guide (5th edition, 1985) felt even less charitable, denigrating it as an [A]bsolutely awful remake of the above; costly but totally spiritless, miscast and uninteresting". Finally, David Shipman in his 1984 Good Film and Video Guide, does not grant it any stars (Shipman's top number is 4), questioning "[Y]ou wonder why they dared – or bothered. In Ford's film (see previous entry), everything works but here almost nothing does". He concludes with "Keenan Wynn plays a bad man waiting for the stage to arrive. His professionalism, and that of Heflin and Crosby, are some consolation".
- Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p254
- Solomon p 230. See also "Big Rental Pictures of 1966", Variety, 4 January 1967 p 8. Please note figures are rentals not total gross.
- Kleiner, Dick [syndicated Hollywood columnist for Newspaper Enterprise Association describes his visit to Stagecoach's picturesque filming location in Nederland, Colorado] (August 5, 1965). "SHOW BEAT: Rains Swamp Stagecoach". The Florence Times. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- Kehr, Dave [film writer for The Times reports on the long-delayed DVD release of the 1966 version] (October 14, 2011). "The Man Who Dared to Fill John Wayne's Boots". The New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- "Norman Rockwell Goes Hollywood" (Norman Rockwell Museum of Vermont website)
- Curry, Adrian. "Movie Poster of the Week: The Movie Posters of Norman Rockwell" (MUBI, 09 July 2010)
- The Motion Picture Guide (Chicago, 1987), volume VII, pp. 3094–95
- Stagecoach at the Internet Movie Database
- Stagecoach at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Stagecoach at the TCM Movie Database
- Stagecoach at AllMovie
- Stagecoach at Rotten Tomatoes
- Stagecoach at TV Guide (revised form of this 1987 write-up was originally published in The Motion Picture Guide)