Notoriuos liar Bill Barker, having been banished westward by the law, talks the townspeople of Martinez into making him Mayor and Judge. Here he has to deal with the outlaw the Tonto Kid, ...
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Pecos businessman Matt Gardner is buying up freighters, or wagon trains of food supplies, at cheap prices through intimidation, and charging high prices by deliberately causing phony food ... See full summary »
Don, Smokey and Whopper are are their way to Placer City where Don's brother Brad is U.S. Marshal. But when Don gets there, he finds that Marshal Brad is not his brother, but an impostor. ... See full summary »
Arriving in Red River to join their friend Chet Andrews in the ownership of a cattle ranch, Jim Carey and his pal Ike discover that Chet has been jailed for resisting the efforts of a ... See full summary »
This film opens with two small Arizona towns, Spencerville and East Spencerville, separated by a dry gulch and a feud, and governed by a Vigilante Committee. Lew Harmon, committee member ... See full summary »
Texas Ranger Jack Steele is assigned to bring in former ranch owner Judith Alvarez, now the leader of a gang who is waging war against the crooked government officials who cheated the ... See full summary »
Kit Russell, appointed special investigator, has infiltrated a local robber gang ostensibly led by Snap, but has found out that an unnamed local person is really the brains behind the ... See full summary »
Storekeeper Paul Manning is attempting to sabotage the completion of a telegraph line so he can have time to dispose of his stock before the near-by Army post is abandoned. He uses outlaw ... See full summary »
Tom Weston arriving in town just as the Doctor announces his father's death a suicide, sees the gun is in the wrong hand. When the Bank Examiner announces the bank has no money and Tom's ... See full summary »
Notoriuos liar Bill Barker, having been banished westward by the law, talks the townspeople of Martinez into making him Mayor and Judge. Here he has to deal with the outlaw the Tonto Kid, the troublesome McQuinn Brothers, and look after his daughter Nita Mosby who thinks her father is dead. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
Easygoing western with quirky characters and great frontier flavor
THE LAW WEST OF TOMBSTONE (1938) doesn't play like a standard Hollywood western, either A or B. It's more like what you'd get if you took two short stories based on a colorful, larger-than-life western character and merged them together and made a film out of it. It's much more character-driven than plot-driven. A handful of lively, eccentric characters with wildly varying agendas are thrown on screen together and let loose in a tiny Texas town hoping to see some growth from a new railroad station.
Harry Carey Sr. plays Bill Barker, a tall-tale-spinning westerner with big dreams but little capital. In the opening scene, set in New York in 1881, he rides a carriage at high speed down Broadway and tries to con a Wall Street tycoon who's a little too smart for him. Back in Texas, he finds himself elected mayor of Martinez, thanks to his ability to dazzle a crowd with extemporaneous big talk. He takes a local outlaw under his wing, the Tonto Kid (Tim Holt), and tries to get him to straighten out, especially after the boy takes a liking to a newly arrived young lady who happens to be Barker's daughter, a relationship she has no knowledge of, having been raised to think her father died a hero at Gettysburg. Which is exactly how Barker wants it.
There are Indians, whose movements are manipulated to benefit different factions, and corrupt ranchers seeking to deprive rivals of available water resources. There are dance hall girls whose function is never spelled out but is quite evident nonetheless. Everything happens at its own pace and if you come into this expectingor demandingthe usual western formula you will allow the film's considerable virtues to fly right over your head.
In the few writings I've seen on this film, much is made of the central characters' resemblance to certain western historical figures, e.g. Judge Roy Bean, Billy the Kid and the Clanton Gang. As someone who's read quite a bit of western history, I find the characters presented here unique enough to stand on their own as memorable fictional figures and the tale, as spun here, more in keeping with folklore than with history.
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