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The Westerner (1940)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance, Western  |  20 September 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,394 users  
Reviews: 48 user | 17 critic

Judge Roy Bean, a self-appointed hanging judge in Vinergaroon, Texas, befriends saddle tramp Cole Harden, who opposes Bean's policy against homesteaders.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 4 more credits »
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Airs Sun. Oct. 04, 11:00 PM on TCM

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Title: The Westerner (1940)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Doris Davenport ...
Jane Ellen Mathews
Fred Stone ...
Caliphet Mathews
Wade Harper
Paul Hurst ...
Hod Johnson
Mort Borrow
Shad Wilkins
King Evans
Lucien Littlefield ...
The Stranger


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


NOTORIOUS DESPERADOES They fought... for a frontier empire! See more »


Drama | Romance | Western


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 September 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le cavalier du désert  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Opening credits: This story is legend founded on fact and, with the exception of "Judge" Roy Bean and Lily Langtry, all the characters are fictional. See more »


The town was named for George Langtry, an engineer and foreman who had supervised a Chinese work crew building the railroad, and not for the actress Lillie Langtry. See more »


Wade Harper: We're goin' back to build our fences.
Judge Roy W. Bean: If you do, you better build coffins with them. Now git!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »


Featured in Golden Saddles, Silver Spurs (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

Forgotten Classic
29 October 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I saw the film again after a gap of 25 years recently, and it really is as good as i remembered it. So good in fact it almost made it into my list of top ten westerns. Everything about is top notch-the performances, the photography, the humour and the screenplay. It is only let down by the contrived ending. The fight scene between Cooper and Tucker is as realistic as you will see anywhere, and the scene where Cooper cuts off a lock of Davenports hair is erotically charged. Of course the two main plusses are the performances of Brennan and Cooper-each fills the frame with their presence even when they have no lines, and Brennans portrayal of Judge Roy Bean results in one of the more memorable characters in westerns. In the hand of another actor the result could have been a caricature but Brennan treads the very thin line between parody and homage perfectly.

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