September 4, 2018  (Web Review)

The Life and Times of Judge Roy

Warner, 123 min., PG, Blu-ray: $21.99

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

Filmmaker John Huston’s delightful and somewhat true 1972 Western stars Paul Newman in the title role as a rogue outlaw who turns (rogue) judge in the tiny burg of Vinegaroon, TX, after dispatching a handful of lowlifes in a bar that is subsequently renamed The Jersey Lily in honor of Bean’s beloved thespian Lillie Langtry. Judge Roy, the self-proclaimed law of the land west of the Pecos, is fond of the gun and the noose (sample of justice: the penalty for speaking ill of Miss Lillie is shooting, then hanging). Taking on a financially-strapped gang of robbers as his deputies, the judge strongly feels that justice is the handmaiden of the law (or vice versa) and he dispenses the same with gusto as the makeshift crosses in the town cemetery proliferate. But as the population grows it also becomes evident that Bean is a relic from a different era and he eventually locks horns with lawyer Frank Gass (Roddy McDowall), a windbag with capitalist dreams. The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean is chockful of entertaining moments involving a beer-drinking bear (named Bear), an albino outlaw (Stacy Keach, wonderful as Bad Bob), and a feisty love interest (Victoria Principal in her debut). Also featuring Ava Gardner (as Lillie Langtry), Ned Beatty, Tab Hunter, and Jacqueline Bisset, this picaresque Western—backed by a lush Maurice Jarre soundtrack—is highly recommended. (R. Pitman)