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In Stagecoach, Producer Wanger's contempt for the Production Code is manifested by the fact that its heroine (Claire Trevor) is a prostitute, its hero (John Wayne) a desperado, and its most likable character (Thomas Mitchell) a rumpot physician. No social document, Stagecoach is merely the record of a journey made by these and several other engaging personages from Tonto to Lordsburg in the era when Geronimo and his Apaches made life on the Arizona frontier more than normally exciting.
Built along the plot lines of Grand Hotel, Stagecoach includes a few standard incidents: the regeneration of the doctor when he sobers up enough to deliver a child for a fellow passenger, the regeneration of the desperado when he scorns escape from the law to help defend his fellows against the Indians; a somewhat oversimplified rescue by the U. S. cavalry. In general, however, it avoids the cliches of its familiar formula; and the rugged background of Monument Valley, Ariz., where it was made, the admirable pace given to the screen play by Writer Dudley Nichols and Director John Ford, the unostentatious acting of a well-chosen cast make it one of the season's most satisfactory pictures. Good sequence: Doc Boone persuading a weak-willed whiskey salesman (Donald Meek) to open his sample case.