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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
This intelligent Western contains many a wily comment on the savage mindset of frontier times. Walter Brennan as Judge Roy Bean thoroughly deserved his Academy award though it beats me why he picked up a supporting Oscar instead of a full one. After all, his part is about as long as Gary Cooper's. That aside, Gregg Toland's photography is a gem and the dialog well ahead of its time. The best thing about it all, though, is Wyler's disciplined direction. Yes, some would argue that the film does not accurately reflect history, that Judge Roy Bean died much later and not in a shootout but frankly there is enough prejudice, malice, and quirky humor in this film for one to know outright that Wyler never intended it as a historical account but, rather, as a comment on the difficulties of bringing law to the West. Some of it might be dated but Brennan will startle you, Cooper is darned slick, and it will keep you riveted. Don't miss it!
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