Cole Harden just doesn't look like a horse thief, Jane-Ellen Matthews tells Judge Roy Bean as she steps up to the bar. Cole says he can't take it with him as he empties all of his coins on the bar to buy drinks for the jury. He notices two big pictures of Lily Langtry behind the bar. Sure, Cole has met the Jersey Lily, whom the hanging judge adores, even has a lock of her hair. Hanging is delayed for two weeks, giving Cole time to get in the middle of a range war between cattlemen and homesteaders and to still be around when Lily Langtry, former mistress of Edward VII who became an international actress, arrives in Texas. Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
According to the New York Times review of the film on 25 October 1940, it opened at the Radio City Music Hall the night before, more than one month after the national opening on 20 September 1940. No reason was given for the apparent delay. Their credited cast list also is identical to the one in the AFI Catalog, including the character name of "Burt Cobble" for Dana Andrews. However, Variety's cast list has Andrews' name correctly as "Hod Johnson," so there is still a mystery concerning which are the original credits. See more »
The farmers were portrayed as having filed homesteads to acquire their land in Texas when, in reality, there were no homesteaders in Texas. Because Texas, an independent republic, joined the Union in l845 with full statehood status from the beginning and never went through territorial status, there was never any federal government-owned land in the state to be open under the Homestead Act. See more »
Judge Roy W. Bean:
Shad Wilkins, you've been tried and found guilty of the most serious crime west of the Pecos, to wit: shooting a steer. Do you got anything to say for yourself before the sentence of the court is executed?
I told you they shot at me first. I didn't mean to kill that steer on purpose. I was aiming at the man.
Judge Roy W. Bean:
It's your bad luck you missed him. That's the trouble with you sodbusters... you can't shoot straight. Shad, may the Lord have mercy on your soul.
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Opening credits: "After the Civil War, America, in the throes of rebirth, set its face West where the land was free. First came the cattlemen and with them "Judge" Roy Bean, who took the law into his own hands, administering justice according to his lights. That he left his impress on the history of Texas is tribute to his greatness. Then into his stronghold moved another army, the homesteaders, who ploughed the soil, fenced in fields, to bring security to their wives and children. War was inevitable, a war out of which grew the Texas of today." See more »
A Perfect Representation of the American Psyche in 1940
"The Westerner" (1940): Directed by William Wyler, starring Gary Cooper and Walter Brennen. On one level, this is a classic tale of the Old West as it struggled through a transition of re-settlement. Depicted as such, it is a beautifully photographed, well acted, gritty, weird, funny, and emotional story. But, this film was also made in 1940. The Germans had begun their sweep across Europe, they were breaking treaties as fast as necessary, and non-militarized countries could not withstand the armed renegade country bent on following no rules but its own. To think that this was not on the minds of "The Westerner's" writers, directors, and audience, would be naïve. It's a perfect representation of current events in Europe, England, and America as of 1940. (1941 would change that.) I found it fascinating from this perspective watching it with something of the same gut level understanding that people in that time would have certainly felt. Cooper was the outsider who had no real attachments and wanted to remain isolated keeping his freedom and avoiding entanglements. The town, run by despot Judge Roy Bean, made their own laws, convicted everyone in their way, and hung them without a second thought. The farmers were seen as an impediment to their expanding ideas which required more and more land and water. Cooper was drawn into the battle of ideologies, and attempted to become the ambassador aiming for peace, not war. He moved slowly, and lost the trust of everyone until it was made very clear to him that the aggressors had no intention of honoring promises. It was time to take sides. It is PERFECT representation of that, and our (we, the Westerners), time.
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