Another thing I'm trying to articulate is the interesting way that Ford often favors culture above all else, including and especially more formal institutions. A lot of the injustice in his films is perpetuated by outsiders, trying to bring order, formality, and "new rules" to people who've always done things a certain way. Hatfield, Dallas, and Ringo are treated more sympathetically than the members of the party trying to bring law and order to the west. Stagecoach touches on the "civilization being imposed on the west" theme so beautifully, and much less explicitly than other films, perhaps because it is about the journey these people are on. Whereas many westerns focus on an old way of life being threatened or coming to an end, Ford's film doesn't seem to deal with characters who are settled. They are all wandering, journeying together. We don't know where they began or where they will end up. And throughout, we are treated to superb performances, charm, and a rich complexity to all of them.
Oh my,what an excellent observation.