64 user 20 critic

Lawman (1971)

R | | Western | 4 August 1971 (USA)
A lawman from Bannock arrives in Sabbath to arrest all the cattlemen whose wild celebration the year before resulted in the accidental death of an old man.




Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video



Cast overview, first billed only:
Choctaw Lee (as William C. Watson)


While passing through the town of Bannock, a bunch of drunken, trail-weary cattlemen go overboard with their celebrating and accidentally kill an old man with a stray shot. They return home to Sabbath unaware of his death. Bannock lawman Jered Maddox later arrives there to arrest everyone involved on a charge of murder. Sabbath is run by land baron Vince Bronson, a benevolent despot, who, upon hearing of the death, offers restitution for the incident. Maddox, however, will not compromise even though small ranchers like Vern Adams are not in a position to desert their responsibilities for a long and protracted trial. Sabbath's marshal, Cotton Ryan, is an aging lawman whose tough reputation rests on a single incident that occurred years before. Ryan admits to being only a shadow of what he once was and incapable of stopping Maddox. Maddox confides to Ryan that Bannock's judicial system is weak and corrupt, and while he's doubtful that anyone he brings back will suffer more than the ... Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He gave the West justice right up to its neck... then rammed more down its throat.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

4 August 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Law Man  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Richard Jordan also starred with Burt Lancaster in the western Valdez Is Coming (1971) which was released the same year. See more »


When Maddox (Burt Lancaster) shoots the horse out from under Vernon Adams (Robert Duvall), the man who is thrown from the falling horse has a full head of hair, and is clearly a stunt double. Robert Duvall was totally bald on top in this movie. The stuntman even tries to hide the fact by placing his hand right on top of his head as he comes up, but the full head of hair is still visible. See more »


Bannock Marshal Jared Maddox: A man gets caught in his own doing. You can't change what you are. And if you try, something always calls you back.
See more »


Referenced in Death Wish (1974) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Frontier justice taken to the extreme
12 July 2001 | by (San Gabriel, Ca., USA) – See all my reviews

This underrated 1971 western is not your standard issue good guys/bad guys John Wayne-type film; that style went out thanks to men like Peckinpah and Leone. LAWMAN stars Burt Lancatser as a hard-bitten lawman who rides from Bannock to Sabbath to bring in a group of ranchers who, in a drunken spree, had shot up his town and killed an old man. He states his goal to Sabbath's local marshal (Robert Ryan) as plain as day: "I'm gonna take these men back with me, or kill 'em where they stand."

The problem is, however, that the "good people" of Sabbath are beholden to these same group of ranchers and their leader (Lee J. Cobb), and are openly hostile to Lancaster for the most part. Lancaster, of course, is unperturbed by the hostility, dedicated as he is to finishing his job one way or another. The result is a somewhat violent but always compelling psychological western along the lines of HIGH NOON, well directed by future DEATH WISH director Michael Winner, perhaps his best film as a director.

Lancaster is, as always, extremely good in his role as the stoic and unbending lawman, but so too is the often-underrated Ryan as Sabbath's aging and pragmatic marshal who, when he sees Lancaster being openly threatened, stops being a "kick dog" and starts being the kind of marshal the West still needs. Cobb is sympathetic as the leader of the ranchers. The cast is rounded out by such top-notch performers as Robert Duvall, Richard Jordan, Albert Salmi, J.D. Cannon, Lou Frizzell, and Joseph Wiseman.

Except for an over-reliance on zooms, the cinematography by British cameraman Robert Paynter really captures the bleak scenery of the arid Southewest; the film was shot on location in and around Durango, Mexico during the summer of 1970. Jerry Fielding's score (as conducted by David Whittaker) adds to this film's starkness and occasional violence, and is sometimes influenced by jazz and even a bit of Aaron Copland in one sequence.

LAWMAN is for those western fans with a taste for suspense and psychological tension, and remains impressive to this day.

48 of 61 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page