Filmed in 1939 and directed by John Ford, Stagecoach is a wonderful character study of 9 people – mostly unconnected to each other – traveling together from Tonto, Arizona Territory in 1880. They are on a dangerous journey through hostile Apache territory. They range from poor outcasts to society’s elites.
Mr. Gatewood (played by Berton Churchill), is one of the elites. He is the town banker who meets the departing Stagecoach on the outskirts of town. Since his bank is on Main Street, the drivers are surprised. He says he had a last minute telegraph message causing him to rush home and pack a bag.
As the passengers ride in the close quarters of the coach, Gatewood pontificates a message that sounds eerily familiar…
I don’t know what the government is coming to.
Instead of protecting businessmen, it pokes its nose into business. Why they’re even talking now about having bank examiners, as if we bankers don’t know how to run our own banks! At home I actually have a letter from a popinjay official saying they were going to inspect my books.
I have a slogan that should be placed on every newspaper in the country…
America for Americans!
The government must not interfere with business!
Our national debt is something shocking – over one billion dollars per year!
What this country needs is a businessman for president!
As the movie moves along, we continue to hear from Mr. Gatewood from time to time until, arriving in the safe town of Lordsburg, New Mexico Territory, he is arrested for absconding with the bank’s assets.
We learn a few important lessons from Banker Gatewood…
- There may well be good reasons for thoughtful regulation.
- Politicians have been using the same lines for a long, long time.