John Ford’s 1962 western THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, which starred James Stewart and John Wayne, is the next classic title that’s set for a remake. Paramount Pictures is officially developing a new spin on the western classic, setting the story in 1980’s Pennsylvania. Matt Jackson is producing the remake, while Gabby Canton and Elizabeth Raposo are overseeing for the studio.
Considered one of the last great Hollywood westerns and one of Ford’s finest, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance follows an influential U.S. senator (Stewart) who returns with his wife to the frontier town where they’d met to attend a funeral. When asked why he came to pay his respects to an impoverished “nobody,” he then proceeds to tell a story about how he teamed up with a cowboy (Wayne) in his youth to defeat a band of outlaws. The New York Times called the film “…one of the great Western classics and The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody described it as “the greatest American political movie.”
The remake will pluck the story from the proverbial western and place it in contemporary Pennsylvania, with the film-long flashback narrative set in the 1980’s. Sources confirm that the project will be quite a departure from the western landscape, transforming into an urban crime/thriller in the vein of The Departed, The Town, and Mystic River. The film will feature Polish gangsters in the place of outlaws.
The studio is out to writers now, seeking to tap an A-List scribe to pen this adaptation of the Dorothy M. Johnson short story. The studio’s re-interpretation of its iconic title seems fitting given the great successes of films like The Town and The Departed, which are modern takes on the western in their own right.
Jackson serves as the President of production at IM Global, though the shingle will not be involved in Liberty Valance. As a producer, Jackson has worked on the Dwayne Johnson thriller Snitch, the Jake Gyllenhaal/Michael Peña drama End of Watch, the JFK assassination drama Parkland, and most recently, the Charlize Theron thriller Dark Places.
Next up, Jackson executive produced the Brain Cox/Emile Hirsch horror pic The Autopsy of Jane Doe and The Weinstein Company’s thriller Viral. He’ll also produce Lionsgate’s Julius Ceaser origin story Emperor, based on the books series by Conn Iggulden.
Clark Allen | Associate Editor