A no account outlaw establishes his own particular brand of law and order and builds a town on the edges of civilization in this farcical western. With the aid of an old law text and unpredictable notions Roy Bean distinguishes between lawbreakers and lawgivers by way of his pistols. Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Throughout the movie, the name of Ava Gardner's character is spelled Lillie Langtry. In the end credits, it is spelled Lily Langtry. See more »
Judge Roy Bean:
[Last lines: Judge Roy Bean's last letter to Lily Langtry, voiceover]
My dearest Lily: I take pen in hand to write to you for this very last time. I wish to tell you that although I've never seen you, or heard the sound of your voice, I have carried you with me in my heart always. Your presence on this earth has given me strength and dignity becoming to a gentleman. Helped me to drive away the cold of my long and lonely night. I wish to say lastly, it has been an honor to adore you. God willing,...
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The real-life Judge Roy Bean, the law west of the Pecos, was a legendary figure who pulled off numerous publicity stunts for "his" town of Langtry, meanwhile administering a little justice along the way. If you'ver ever watched Northern Exposure, a good comparison might be Barry Corbin's Maurice Minnifield. That being said, the real Judge Bean pales in comparison to the legend that has built up over the years. That legend is what Huston concerns himself with, and it serves him well. The film is very episodic in nature, and for the first half, it does not disappoint. Paul Newman's first scene, where he's beaten, left for dead, and returns to wreck vengeance on every last one of his attackers sets the tone for the rest of the film. This is high mythology, tall tales at their best; you get the impression that this is how we Texans really wish our history read--colorful, eclectic, ruthless at times, and occasionally downright bizarre. From beer drinking bears to albino bandits, it's certainly interesting.
That being said, the film definitely takes a melancholy tone as civilization comes to Langtry. With it comes the disdain for such colorful characters as Bean, who seemingly has no place in the new, modern world. It's sad, but makes for an especially poignant ending. Newman's Judge is a blustering wonder; other standouts include Anthony Perkins, Ned Beatty, Roddy McDowell, and a very young and fetching Victoria Principal. Also making cameos are Jacqueline Bissett, Stacy Keach, Ava Gardner, and even the director himself.
All in all, a funny, touching film.
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