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10

FRIDAY

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An earnest lawyer, played by Jimmy Stewart in full Capra mode, and a gruff, lonely cowpoke, who could only be John Wayne. Does it matter which one is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance? John Ford’s 1962 Western is structured as if it did, but the film is perhaps best known for its answer: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Call it legend or call it formula, there are no great surprises in the movie, which features such stock characters as the cowardly marshal and the alcoholic newspaperman, as well as Lee Marvin as the bad-to-the-bone title character. What resonates is the central theme, a recurring one in Ford’s Westerns: the poignant yet necessary disappearance of the Old West and its six-gun ethos. When the distinguished senator and his wife arrive in Shinbone for the cowpoke’s funeral, the Western will be buried with the casket. The film screens at 6:30 p.m. at the Library of Congress’ Mary Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free. (202) 707-5677. (Mark Jenkins)