Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean [1972]

Director: John Huston
Stars: Paul Newman, Jacqueline Bisset, Tab Hunter, John Huston, Stacy Keach
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 120 minutes

A remarkable blend of otherwise disparate philosophies about legendary men, this 1972 film was inspired in part by the epic dimensions of a John Milius (The Wind and the Lion) script, which was toned down by Paul Newman's charmingly eccentric approach to the title character, who in turn was deepened by director John Huston's sensitivity to the subject of fleeting dreams. The story concerns the famous outlaw-turned-lawmaker who rules over an empty stretch of the West that gradually grows, under his iron fist, into a thriving town. The film follows the quirky Bean's episodic adventures as the years pass and a variety of colorful characters come and go, including the muse who captivated his soul, the actress Lily Langtry (Ava Gardner). Huston's textured approach has an almost Altmanesque feel to it, though he demands more (and rewardingly so) obvious performances from the cast, particularly a hilarious cameo by Stacy Keach as the one tough-as-nails SOB who makes Bean a tad nervous. Highly entertaining. --Tom Keogh

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