March 22

“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”: A Movie Inside a Song

Legends Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, and Lee Marvin star in director John Ford‘s classic Western. Senator Ransom Stoddard returns home for the funeral of friend Tom Doniphon, and while there, reveals to a reporter the truth about him killing outlaw Liberty Valance that made him famous. The movie included the famous line,

“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance": A Movie Inside a Song 1

“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” by Gene Pitney

The Burt Bacharach-Hal David song became a Top 10 hit for Gene Pitney. Though based on the movie’s plotline, it was not used in the film. Pitney said in an interview that he was in the studio about to record the song when “… Bacharach informed us that the film just came out.”

Although the song never appeared in the film, there is disagreement about whether the song had been intended to appear in it. Nevertheless, Pitney has stated that the song’s recording session was paid for by Paramount. And that it was midway through the song’s recording session that he found out that the song was not going to be included in the film. That was when one of the orchestra members told him that the film had been released.

Regardless, the song went to No. 4. Jimmie Rodgers also recorded the song, in the Gene Pitney style. James Taylor covered it on his 1985 album That’s Why I’m Here, as did The Royal Guardsmen on their 1967 album Snoopy vs. the Red Baron. It was also covered by the Australian rock band Regurgitator on their 1998 David/Bacharach tribute album To Hal and Bacharach.

The song was ranked no. 36 in the Western Writers of America’s list of the top 100 Western songs of all time, as compiled from a survey of its members.

Men behind the film

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a 1962 American Western film.  The black-and-white film was released by Paramount Pictures. The screenplay by James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck was adapted from a short story written by Dorothy M. Johnson. The supporting cast features Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Edmond O’Brien, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Woody Strode, Strother Martin, and Lee Van Cleef.

In 2007, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Any song related to western music, we feature here at Country Daily. Feel free to share your thoughts with us.


Gene Pitney

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