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The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean Review

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A no account outlaw establishes his own particular brand of law and order and builds a town on the edges of civilization in this farcical western.

★★★★

An underrated late period John Huston film which benefits from a witty myth-making script from John Milius and a parade of interesting cameo players. Paul Newman stars as Bean, usually played in Westerns as a whiskery villain, an ex-outlaw who declares himself “the law west of the Pecos”, and quixotically enforces justice as the west goes sour around him. Newman sends himself up, even in the love scenes, and has great fun in the finalé as he returns in the 1920s as a centenarian to blow up the oilfield that has blighted his beloved desert. Among the fun supporting turns are Stacy Keach as an albino gunman, Huston himself as a repulsive Grizzly Adams (“I cohabit with the bars”) and Ava Gardner as Lilly Langtry. Overlong and overdone but well worth a
re-evaluation.

Ripe for revisitation.

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