The town of Warlock is plagued by a gang of thugs, leading the inhabitants to hire Clay Blaisdell, a famous gunman, to act as marshal. When Blaisdell appears, he is accompanied by his ... See full summary »
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The town of Warlock is plagued by a gang of thugs, leading the inhabitants to hire Clay Blaisdell, a famous gunman, to act as marshal. When Blaisdell appears, he is accompanied by his friend Tom Morgan, a club-footed gambler who is unusually protective of Blaisdell's life and reputation. However, Johnny Gannon, one of the thugs who has reformed, volunteered to accept the post of official sheriff in rivalry to Blaisdell; and a woman arrives in town accusing Blaisdell and Morgan of having murdered her fiance. The stage is set for a complex set of moral and personal conflicts. Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
Two important roles were played by actors going very much against type. The often strong, tough, macho Anthony Quinn here is cast as a hesitant, even weak man. Tom Drake, who once played sensitive composer Richard Rodgers and while at MGM specialized in nice, clean-cut "boy next door" roles, here is cast as the chief villain, the evil boss of the vicious "San Pablo" gang. See more »
At around 1:12:20, Fonda is made to draw his gun, when he goes to put it back in the holster, he clearly misses the holster and gets it right on the second try. As a gunfighter he was obviously better at getting his gun out of the holster than putting it back. See more »
In the 50's Westerns were extremely popular, and many of that decade's best movies were Westerns. The Searchers, Winchester '73, The Man From Laramie, The Naked Spur - the list of great Westerns from the 50's could practically go on for days. One movie that should always be included on any list of best Westerns from the 50's is Warlock.
Warlock's strengths start with a very well written, intelligent script that gives the characters three dimensions and realistic motivations. The script uses these characters well in pushing forward the many solid plot points. Warlock isn't a "shoot 'em up," Western, but it does have its share of good action. Many fans have described this as one of the quintessential "Psychological Westerns," and to a degree that is true. It also features solid drama, and genuine excitement when the action scenes come.
Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn, and Richard Widmark give some of their finest performances in Warlock, and a strong case could be made that this is Anthony Quinn's best performance in a Western. Fonda's dark, brooding performance foreshadows the even darker and nastier performance he would give almost a decade later in Once Upon a Time in the West. DeForest Kelley gives a strong supporting performance as well, showing his natural abilities in the Western genre.
Edward Dmytryk directed Warlock with a steady hand. He didn't overdo the direction looking to push the artistic envelope with unusual camera angles, but he did direct the movie with a flair and style ideal for a Western.
Ultimately, Warlock holds up not only as one of the best Westerns of the 50's, but as one of the best Westerns of all time and may be one of those movies that receives more acclaim with each passing decade.
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