The Westerner (1940)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance, Western  |  20 September 1940 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,472 users  
Reviews: 49 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 »
0Check in
Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A New Englander arrives in the Old West, where he becomes embroiled in a feud between two families over a valuable patch of land.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker
Drama | War | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The pacifist attitude of a Quaker family is tested as a result of the American Civil War.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire, Anthony Perkins
Sergeant York (1941)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A hillbilly sharpshooter drafted in WW1 despite his claim to be a pacifist, who ends up becoming a war hero.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie
Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A reformed outlaw becomes stranded after an aborted train robbery with two other passengers and is forced to rejoin his old outlaw band.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Gary Cooper, Julie London, Lee J. Cobb
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Notorious gunfighter Jimmy Ringo rides into town to find his true love, who doesn't want to see him. He hasn't come looking for trouble, but trouble finds him around every corner.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Gregory Peck, Helen Westcott, Millard Mitchell
The Letter (1940)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The wife of a rubber plantation administrator shoots a man to death and claims it was self-defense, but a letter in her own hand may prove her undoing.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson
Kentucky (1938)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Romeo and Juliet story set amidst horse racing in Kentucky. The family feud of lovers Jack and Sally goes back to the Civil War and is kept alive by her Uncle Peter.

Director: David Butler
Stars: Loretta Young, Richard Greene, Walter Brennan
War | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

British flying aces in World War I contend with the harsh realities of war.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, David Niven
Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Character study of a Doctor who saves a local criminal from a mob who are trying to hang him, but then tries to control the life of the young man, realizing that he can exploit his secret.

Directors: Delmer Daves, Karl Malden, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, Karl Malden
Dodsworth (1936)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A retired auto manufacturer and his wife take a long-planned European vacation only to find that they want very different things from life.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The ruthless, moneyed Hubbard clan lives in, and poisons, their part of the deep South at the turn of the 20th century.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, Teresa Wright
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An ambitious lumberjack abandons his saloon girl lover so that he can marry into wealth, but years later becomes infatuated with the woman's daughter.

Directors: Howard Hawks, William Wyler, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Edward Arnold, Joel McCrea, Frances Farmer


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


THE RAW UNTAMED ADVENTUROUS WEST...LIVES AGAIN! (original print media ad - all caps) 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?


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?
Shad Wilkins: 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.
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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A Perfect Representation of the American Psyche in 1940
11 May 2008 | by (Ronn Ives/FUTURES Antiques, Norfolk, VA.) – See all my reviews

"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.

14 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Doris Davenport bjguilfoyle
fight scene luigimarchini
A very odd film, well acted thirsch-2
Rub O' The Brush scarver-1
Gregg Toland and William Wyler - genius jymn-365-224576
The cinematography Peterlh
Discuss The Westerner (1940) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: