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The best western ever made...
*SPOILERS*. I love this movie to pieces. I think that it tells the wonderful tale of how one man tamed a piece of land in his own unique way. I think that Paul Newman's acting is wonderful, as well as the rest of the cast. The music is also very haunting and beautiful. One of the wonderful aspects of this film is the development of Langtry. It started out as a whorehouse, soon buildings developed around, God fearing folk came to settle. It was all going good until Frank Gass moved in and turned the townspeople against the Judge, even though he was the man that began the town.
To pick a favorite part in this movie is impossible, because I like the whole thing. But I'd have to say that the development of the town is my favorite aspect. It started out as a whorehouse, the Judge tamed it, hired marshals. Soon buildings began springing up like wild flowers.
The town was good and the Judge was the ruler. Of course, when Frank Gass came to town, that little man tried his damnedest to knock the Judge out of his seat of power. It's sad to say that he succeeded. After Marie Elena dies and the Judge rides off into the sunset, I love the part when Tector explains the development/decline of the town, 1900-1920. Frank Gass is now powerful and owns the oil in Langtry and is threatening to kick Rose and Tector out of the Jersey Lilly. The Judge comes back to town, round up his now worthless marshals and fights to protect his home. Eventually, there it a big fire that destroys the whole town, except the Jersey Lilly. It's continuity, the Circle of Life if you're a Lion King fan.
One of my other favorite scenes is when the marshals' wives, who were all once former prostitutes, force the Judge to apologize for calling them whores. This scene shows the hypocrisy of women in the 1800's. When we were first introduced to these characters, one was willing to give the Judge her favors for free. About three years later, when Victorian rules became part of their lives, they're willing to gossip about Marie Elena carrying the Judge's child while not being his wife. Just like Tector said: "There's nothing worse than a reformed harlot." The Judge's obsession with Lilly Langtry throughout the film is very well resolved in the last scene in the movie. The part when she reads the Judge's last letter is nearly heartbreaking. I must admit that I have almost cried near the end.
I would like to add that the song "Marmalade, Molasses, and Honey" was most deserving of its Best Original Song nomination at the 1973 Academy Awards. Unfortunately, the song lost to "The Way We Were" and let's face it, Andy Williams can't compete with Barbra.
In conclusion, I have come to realize that many of my favorite movies have been ridiculed and picked apart on this web site. I love this movie and I would suggest it for anyone who loves westerns.