Law and Order (1932) Poster


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Excellent Early Sound Western
bsmith555215 October 2001
"Law and Order" is one of the first (if not THE first) screen treatment of the infamous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Curiously enough, although the main characters are clearly based on the Earps and the Clantons, they are called by other names. The "Earps", for example, are called Johnson and the "Clantons", Northrup.

All that aside, "Law and Order" is an excellent action packed western from the early sound era. As such, many of the actors were still learning to act for sound. So you will still see many of the exaggerated facial expressions and gestures that were common in silent films. The gunfight sequence is as good as you will ever see.

Walter Huston plays a Wyatt Earp type character called Frame Johnson who with his brother Luther (Russell Hopton) sidekick Deadwood (Raymond Hatton) and a Doc Holiday type character called Brandt (Harry Carey), ride into the lawless town of Tombstone. There they encounter the ruthless Northrup Brothers (Ralph Ince, Harry Woods, Richard Alexander) culminating in the famous gunfight which takes place, for the most part,in the O.K. barn. Along the way, Huston hangs a dim-witted murderer (a very young and very thin Andy Devine).

Huston plays the lead alternatively between a Gary Cooperish style country bumpkin and the no nonsense law enforcer. Carey as always is excellent as the stove pie hatted gambler Brandt. Woods is his usual sneering villain. Also down the cast list is a young Walter Brennan as a saloon worker and perennial bartender Dewey Robinson as, you guessed it, the bartender.

"Law and Order" is an excellent western of this or any other period. It is a pity that it is not more widely available for viewing.
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Way better than you'd expect!
louisgauthier28 June 2002
Even though my Encyclopedia of movie Westerns recommends it(calls it underrated)I was a little surprised by how much I liked it. A well constructed story(by John Huston), well defined roles played by great character actors, some good dialogue(when you could make it out), and surprisingly good photography(specially in the bar scenes). So maybe the sound quality was lacking, but remember this movie's from 1932, only a couple of years into sound. Nevertheless,there's a neat little gimmick near the end when the good guys are gathering up all the guns from the townspeople. One of the town ladies goes to curse a blue streak at them and just as she's getting her words out, a stagecoach drives by, muffling her obscenities. The story unfolds in a very predictable manner, but the camera-work and the acting make almost every minute enjoyable. A surprising number of pan-shots and tracking shots for a film of this era, and the deep focus photography in the saloon shots really leave a lasting impression.
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Stark and Rugged
telegonus6 December 2002
A stark and rugged early talkie western, Law and Order stars Walter Huston and Harry Carey, and is basically a fictionalization of the famous gunfight at the OK Corral. The names are changed to protect the innocent(and the guilty) but this is basically the same story. W.R. Burnett's novel provided the basis for this film. Young John Huston was one of the screenwriters.

Those who think that all early sound movies are chatty comedies and lugubrious soaps ought to take a look at this one. It's fast-paced and realistic, and ends in a breathtaking and amazingly well-sustained blaze of violence and gunplay. Director Edward Cahn proved himself a master on this one. He mostly directed B's and short subjects, and yet on this one occasion showed himself the equal of a Ford or a Hawks.
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A classic "Shoot 'em up"
Cutter-219 April 2003
If you are old enough to remember the "oaters" from television in the '50s, this is one that you wish you had seen. A thinly vieled "Gunfight at the OK Corral" 25 years before the fact with few words, much action and as the shorts used to say "blazing guns". No gratuitous shootimg here. All the bad guys deserved it.
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They can't make it like that anymore
MarioB26 August 2000
Primitive and rude western writen by director to be John Huston, starring his father Walter. This is very masculine: the rare women of the films seems part of the setting, of the furniture. Tough men don't talk very long. They goes Yip and Nop. We all know that there's gonna be some shooting. We can't wait for it! This is B-Movie, but with a special sparkle that makes it unique. Yip!
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Great film, but I have a few questions...
AlsExGal24 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
First, why is "Frame Johson" not called out by name as Wyatt Earp? This is a fictionalized account of what went on in Tombstone, but close enough that everybody knows THAT is who Walter Huston is playing. Earp had only died in 1929. Did he or his widow have some objection to his name being used in films? Also, whether they fit in the storyline or not, and they usually don't, there is almost always some romance involved in Westerns, but not here. This is entirely a man's film filled with outlaw violence and attempts to tame it.

Frame Johnson, his brother Luther (Russell Hopton), friend Brandt (Harry Carey), and Deadwood (Raymond Hatton) are at a crossroads and deciding which town to go to. They pick Tombstone because it sounds peaceful. They are wrong. They get to town on election day. People are being strong-armed to vote for Fin Elder for sheriff, and one fellow, a bit drunk, who does not want to vote, goes behind the voting booth curtain, still arguing with the ruffian who pulled him in there, when a shot rings out. The ruffian comes out and says before the guy died he voted for Elder. So obviously, sheriff Elder is a puppet of the Northrup family/gang who run Tombstone.

So this is the town that Johnson and his band decide to call home. The film is stark, full of violence, and very realistic and sophisticated for an early sound Western. For example when Johnson checks into their hotel room, the first thing he does is look under the mattress for bedbugs using a lamp. I don't think I've ever seen that in a western. The Northrups take an immediate dislike to Johnson just because he has a reputation of having cleaned up various towns in Kansas.

The town elders come to Johnson and beg him to accept the job as sheriff. He doesn't want the job, but he eventually takes it anyways. He has to deputize his friends in the process, because this is not a one man job.

Now, at this point there are some confusing plot points. For one thing, how is it there was an election for one sheriff, corrupt as that election might be, and just the appointment of another by a few self appointed people? Who exactly IS the law in this town? Then there is a scene before a judge in which a Northrup is fined 150 dollars for destruction of property. In a supposed court of law Frame's men threaten Northrup's men with guns drawn on both sides. The judge just sits there. Is this order in the court Tombstone style? When the lightest part of a movie involves the hanging of somebody who seems pretty harmless overall (Andy Devine as Johnny) but WAS guilty of murder, you know you have a pretty dark film. After being sentenced to hang, Johnny breaks down. Frame tries to get him to brace up, and then turns the hanging into an honor by telling Johnny that he will be the first person legally hanged in Tombstone. This does the trick. Johnny acts like he has won an award and now has the courage to face his fate, although the actual execution is not romanticized.

Meanwhile, we get back to the issue of law and order. Like Earp, Frame finally gets to the point where he decides that nobody will be allowed to carry a gun in Tombstone. The trick is in the enforcement. The town fathers decide that this is too much and decide that they want Frame's badge back. He won't give it back. He then unwisely decides that he and his friends/brother/deputies will be unarmed too, with tragic results. In order to take a gun you need a gun.

When one of his deputies is on night duty and is shot in cold blood by the Northrups, then comes the showdown at OK corral, the next morning. This is a very realistic and violent scene, even for the precode era. Frame gets all of the Northrups, but his friend and brother die too, with Frame taking one in the chest and riding out of Tombstone seemingly mortally wounded, but maybe not.

No wonder Doc Holliday never showed up in this one. Who could recover from any kind of illness with bullets constantly and unpredictably flying? This was masterful script writing by John Huston with great acting by his father Walter Huston. This probably won't surprise you. What probably will surprise you is that this was made at Universal. That should not surprise you since until sound came in Westerns were Universals stock and trade. I'd highly recommend it if you ever get a chance because it is timeless in its technique and even much better than Westerns made during the production code era in its stark realism concerning the early west.

As for the confusing multiple sheriffs, Frame Johnson talking about the importance of law and then refusing to give up the badge to the possibly unauthorized people who gave it to him in the first place, and tearing up lawful warrants of arrest for his brother, maybe the film is just saying that to have law you need some kind of order first, and sometimes you can only get that order by somebody with a conscience making their own law, for awhile anyways, as it was in the wild west.
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Just one little thing I want to add.
searchanddestroy-12 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
One more time, I realize that the users have not pointed a very important information about this film. A film that demonstrates a very exceptional violence right in the middle of the thirties. That was so unusual, even before the Hayes Code arrival. I speak of the fact that there was another film made in the same period, a crime film, also written by the terrific W R Burnett and characterized by the great Walter Huston, with also a brutal final gunfight. I talk, of course, of THE BEAST OF THE CITY. I am surprised that no one has spoken about this. Even a blind man, would have told that.

Both of them are pure masterpieces, and not only because of the extreme violence.

I will never be tired of watching them.
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Pretty good for an early western
HotToastyRag20 September 2018
Before you get excited, let me tell you that the 1932 film Law and Order has nothing to do with the television series in the 1990s. This type of law and order has to do with the Wild West, when there was none. Frequently, towns that were so overrun by bandits and criminals sent away for a deputy to "clean up" the town. In this film, Walter Huston is the new sheriff. Of course! He's always playing someone decent and honorable, except for the rare roles when he plays someone really mean.

Walter is supposed to be a real stand-up guy, but one scene in the film made me dislike his character. After a hanging sentence gets passed on a young Andy Devine, Andy starts to cry. Walter's way of cheering him up is to say, "Pull yourself together. You've got to act like a man now." Then, he tells Andy his will be the first legal hanging-as supposed to just a lynching by the angry mob-in the county, to get him excited for his own death! I was all set to dislike him for the rest of the movie, but it's not really possible to dislike Walter Huston, is it? He has a wonderful presence, an almost magical quality that makes you think every movie he's in was written for him.

As it turns out, that part of the movie was just to show how "by the books" his character is, so that when he finally gets to his last straw-and this is a Walter Huston movie, so you know he will-he'll really lose his temper. For an early western, this movie isn't that bad, and it has all the elements fans look for: shootouts, bad guys, death scenes, and saloons.
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