August 1, 2021

The Man Who Killed (or Not) Liberty Valance | Cinema in the SER | Present

The man who killed Liberty Valance it premiered in the United States in April 1962. It arrived in Spain at Christmas of that same year. Eduardo Torres-Dulce he saw the movie as a child, along with his siblings. “It was at the Bilbao cinema on Calle Fuencarral in Madrid because he lived in the Glorieta de Bilbao,” he recalls. And he saw her not once but several times during those Christmases, until the money that an aunt of hers had given him for Christmas ran out. “I was raised in the cinema. In the world of neighborhood cinemas. For me, going to the cinema has always been a party, a prize. And it still is. And I really miss in this pandemic having the disposition of mind to go to a cinema and that it is not like going to the ‘border’. And above all, I miss talking about cinema. There is a sensation of loss, of that enormous pleasure that it supposed to sit in a room, that the curtains were opened, that the lights were turned off and that someone will tell you a story ”.

Almost 60 years have passed since the premiere of The man who killed Liberty Valance and the film continues to fascinate, even more if possible, to Eduardo Torres-Dulce. So much so that he has just published a book that thoroughly dissects the film of John Ford. A book titled The murder of Liberty Valance. “I think it is a film about the sentimental, emotional and biographical tear of the three characters. Neither achieves what he had wanted from life. Ramson Stoddard (James Stewart) intended to change the west according to law and order and does so, but through a violent border act. Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) wanted to build a house to live on his little ranch with Hallie (Vera Miles) and ends up burning it and Hallie I thought that through Ramson Stoddard could have another kind of life and it turns out that his heart stayed forever in Shinbone, the town where the whole plot takes place. This rending is also a part of the rending of the population of the United States ”.

But The man who killed Liberty Valance it also has a political background. The film portrays, like few others, those two souls that live together in the United States and that we have seen in recent days after the presidential elections. A United States that was created with law and order, but that was also born as a result of violence. “One of the theses of the book is the seed of violence that is one of the characteristics that exists in the creation of any nation and especially in the United States. The fact that the constitutional right to have weapons is still being debated says enough about the characteristics of the United States of America, “he explains. Torres-Dulce. “The film deals with the moment in which the American community considers whether the values ​​that have made the ‘border’ possible can continue or have to mutate into more civilized forms, that is, education, electoral processes, freedom of the press. In short, the elements that allow us to build a settled community and not a nation in movement ”.


John Ford was based on a story by the writer Dorothy Johnson to create a complex film, full of mysteries and voids. “Dorothy Johnson she is a formidable writer. Destroy western clichés. His characters are very psychologically tortured. The tale on which the film is based is extraordinarily bitter. Much more abstract than the movie Ford, which is more poetic and emotional, “he says Eduardo Torres-Dulce.

The script for the film was written by Willis Goldbeck, a liberal democrat, and by James Warner Bellah, a very reactionary man, from the more conservative wing of the Republican Party. “It has always caught my attention that they could collaborate in this clearly liberal story,” he says. Torres-Dulce. A film that also includes some biographical elements of its own Ford. “John Ford He was the son of Irish immigrants in New England. His father worked in a tavern and in the movie we see Ericson, the owner of the eating house, who is Swedish. And his mother, as the character of Hallie, he never knew how to read and write ”.



James Stewart, John Wayne and Lee Marvin in The Man Who Killed Liberty Valance / Agencies

As a jurist, let us remember that he was a prosecutor for many years and was appointed Attorney General of the State during the presidency of Mariano Rajoy, Eduardo Torres-Dulce has a natural closeness to the character of James Stewart. “Yes. My heart goes to that liberal jurist who believes in law and order, that the ‘bad guys’ have to be imprisoned, that you don’t have to use weapons at all, which is Ramson Stoddard. And I, who have been a university professor, also attracts my attention, that professorial side that the character of James Stewart”. But, also, of course, he is attracted to that tragically lucid man who plays John Wayne, “The toughest man south of the Picketwire”, as he defines himself in the film. Although the true heart of the film is, according to Torres-Dulce, Hallie, the woman who travels with a hat and looks for a cactus flower.

The film, even though it has been seen many times, continues to pose a myriad of questions to the viewer. Who really killed Liberty Valance ?, that gunman played by Lee Marvin that he has a whip with a silver handle and that when asked when he goes to vote where he resides, he answers: “There where I hang my hat.” Who does Hallie really love? To try to answer all these questions you have to read The murder of Liberty Balance, which is published by Hatari-Books and has written Eduardo Torres-Dulce.

A Eduardo Torres-Dulce that he is no longer a prosecutor, “the bad guy in the movie”, as he himself wrote in the prologue of “Movie prosecutors”, a book edited by the State Attorney General’s Office that analyzed how that profession has been reflected in the cinema . Now he works as a lawyer in a prestigious law firm. “Sometimes there are lawyers who are the bad guys in the movie and prosecutors who end up restoring law and order, Ramson Stoddard, he says laughing. “It is a way to complete your vision of the Law. When you have adopted, as a prosecutor, the idea that you are a lawyer for someone, often for minors or for someone who does not have representation, placing yourself on the other side is practically the same. Also, I am in a very special position because I am an outside advisor. I am not in the day to day. I am not, as before, in the trenches ”.