A curious conversation on Facebook Messenger…sorry.

Jeff [last name redacted]: “Watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance with the kids last night. It didn’t hold up much. However, I was singing the ‘end credits’ Gene Pitney song during the whole film, and then when we got to the end…no song. I looked it up and realized that I had originally seen the film on TV in the 70s and the song was not in the actual film, but some guy at the TV station must have overlaid it on to the end credits. Curious if you’ve ever heard of this weird TV artifact?”

HE: “’Some guy at the TV station’ couldn’t have overlaid or inserted the Gene Pitney song onto the end credits because there is no end credits sequence in Liberty Valance. It just ends with a final static shot of the moving train (25 mph!) that James Stewart and Vera Miles are riding on and then ‘The End.’ Maybe the TV station guy played the song over a black background or an artificial freeze frame.”

Jeff: “My memory is a bit foggy so I don’t know. I do know my brother and I sang the song for a month after we saw it, so the song and the film are inextricably entwined for us. Maybe John Ford had a sudden worry that the film would seem too light with a pop song bringing it home. Thanks for your two cents.”

HE: “What I told you isn’t my ‘two cents’ — it’s fact. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance doesn’t have an end-credits sequence. And it’s a stupid song anyway. It celebrates the awesome six-shooter bravery of the man who stood up to the evil Liberty Valance face to face and shot him dead. Stewart’s Ransom Stoddard character isn’t celebrated, but there’s a line that says “when the final showdown came at last, a law book was no good.”

Jeff: “A song doesn’t have to be smart to be catchy. I suppose the idea is that they were both somehow brave or noble. Stewart for standing up to Valance and Wayne for letting Stewart live, knowing that Vera Miles preferred him.”