Walter Brennan won an Academy award for his portrayal of the shrewd, conniving “Judge” Roy Bean, still a brilliant performance by an under-rated actor. Gary Cooper is at his laconic best, as a drifter who falls into the judge’s clutches. It’s all set to a range war between ranchers and settlers in William Wyler’s classic. As old as this one is, it still holds up very well. And Brennan’s evil, quirky charm and Lilly Langtry adulation, make him one of cinema’s first compulsive-obsessive disorders. Don’t miss this one.
I try to never miss it. It’s one of those films that can’t be duplicated. It’s amazing that the first-third of the film takes-place inside the saloon, or just outside of it. Walter Brennan must’ve blew-the-audiences-away with his performance back then… the bad-guy you hated to love. When he uncorks that whiskey from his private-stock, I actually feel ‘the drunkeness’ as he and Cooper gulp it down. -And they wake-up in the same bed next morning, lol. Classic.
Yeah, the segment with the settlers being harassed is kinda predictable, but it’s included to enforce Brennan’s evil-nature as a prelude to the final shoot-out. I actually saw the TV-episodes of Judge Roy Bean, starring Edgar Buchanan, before I saw The Westerner. So I was surprised that Cooper 13’d Brennan’s Bean-character. In Buchanan’s show, Judge Roy was a lovably cantankerous ‘chaos demon’, who solved crimes and avenged wrongdoings while dispensing frontier-wisdom and witty one-liners.