The Traveling Executioner (1970)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Western  |  1 October 1970 (USA)
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Stacy Keach is electrifying as Jonas Candide, an ex-Carny who travels around the bayou with a portable electric chair. At $100 a head, he renders his services with loving care.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jonas Candide
Gundred Herzallerliebst
Doc Prittle
Piquant (as James J. Sloyan)
Warden Brodski
John Bottoms ...
Ford Rainey ...
Stanley Mae
James Greene ...
Gravey Combs
Sam Reese ...
Priest (as Sammy Reese)
Willy Herzallerliebst
Logan Ramsey ...
La Follette
William Mims ...


Stacy Keach is electrifying as Jonas Candide, an ex-Carny who travels around the bayou with a portable electric chair. At $100 a head, he renders his services with loving care.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

black comedy | execution | See All (2) »


1918. The year this man traveled the South with a portable electric chair.


Comedy | Drama | Western


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 October 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der reisende Henker  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Although it was a box-office failure in 1970 and has been little-seen since, this movie was much admired by John Huston, who cast Stacy Keach in two of his own films after seeing it. See more »


Edited into The Lost Empire (1984) See more »

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User Reviews

Perhaps executions seemed quaint in America's "liberal hour"
2 January 2009 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

This is an exceptionally difficult movie to see. As others have noted, it has not received a DVD release, and the VHS video is difficult to track down and probably prohibitively expensive if found.

I saw it just the once, on TV, about ten years ago, but it made a strong impression on me. Stacy Keach gives a very brilliant performance as that most paradoxical of beings: a likable, humane executioner. He is ably supported by Bud Cort who adds his undertaker character to the gallery of eccentric young men that were his early stock in trade.

I also recall the general atmosphere of levity, a failure to take the central theme of the movie - death - very seriously. This is possibly explained by the fact that in 1970 (or, more probably 1969, when the film is likely to have gone into production) the death penalty itself probably seemed to have become a permanent relic of the past, unlikely to be employed again as the United States joined most of the developed world in rejecting it de facto if not yet de jure. (This abolition was only confirmed in 1972, and was short lived, as it happened.) The movie

  • although much blacker in its comedy - has a similar feel to "Butch

Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (or its TV doppelgaenger, "Alias Smith and Jones"). In these, the Wild West had been somehow not merely domesticated, but suburbanised, and there was an overlay of late 60s/early 70s Southern Californian sensibilities on the period setting. "The Traveling Executioner" does something similar to the Deep South of the late 1910s.

The return of capital punishment in the U.S. in the late 1970s (and its mounting use in the 80s and 90s) is likely to distort the perceptions of those too young to remember the atmosphere of the time in which the movie was made, when its black humour appeared to be excused by the fact that the actual horrors of execution that it so lightheartedly depicted seemed unlikely to reappear.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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