"There are worse things than Apaches," says Dallas, a fallen woman, looking out at the row of tight-lipped, righteous ladies who are running her out of town. It's the kind of line and scene that makes me wish modern blockbusters gave women more to do. I just finished watching John Ford's Stagecoach (1939), a gorgeously-shot film rife with cringe-inducing racial and regional stereotypes that somehow managed to portray the women in it (well, white women) as complicated people. It's the story of a bunch of passengers - a banker, a lady, a tramp, a Southern gentleman, a whiskey salesman, and a drunk (guess who he sits next to) - traveling in a stagecoach through hostile Indian territory. They are joined by an outlaw, the Ringo Kid, thereby completing the cross-section of society necessary for the film to make all its points about the essential goodness of people, class and station notwithstanding.
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