The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

A tongue-in-cheek, pseudoautobiographical movie about Roy Bean, a famously quirky Western character.

Starring Paul Newman, need I say more? oh, yes, I need…

This is one of the movies that I have loved since I was a young otter. Back in the days when the TV Gods would schedule as they wished and we mere mortals had to adjust our lives around seeing our favorite movies, this was one my whole family would watch whenever it came on.

I mean, it’s dated, sure. It reeks of the seventies. You can see the influence of the other whimsical western of the time, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, all over this one. The plot meanders like crazy, and it’s more just a collection of vignettes than a really coherent story.

But now let me tell you why you’ll love it:

  1. John Huston directed it from a John Milius screenplay (and Huston plays Grizzly Adams)
  2. How can you not love a movie 13 of whose first 15 cast members are listed as either ‘Outlaw’ or ‘Whore’?
  3. Stacy Keach. Anthony Perkins. Victoria Principal in her first movie, amazingly young and pretty. Ned Beatty. Tab Hunter. Anthony Zerbe. Jacqueline Bisset. Ava Gardner. OMG, what a cast, even if many of them are only onscreen for a few minutes…all memorable.
  4. Roddy McDowell as the slimy evil bad guy. Very satisfying.
  5. Beautiful photography and scenery, especially for this desert-loving otter
  6. A beer-drinking bear (although he does die, not a good thing Chez Otter)
  7. Wonderful dialogue, which I quote many lines of to this day.

Sure, it’s got a dorky song and interlude in it like Butch and Sundance, but you can go out and get a snack if it really makes you nuts…I think the bear and Paul together are charming enough to keep me in place.

Although there’s plenty of mild violence, don’t expect this to be a traditional Western…it’s more like a Western fairy-tale, a story about how it should have been. And it should.

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