Not a very rich or meaty tale, William Wyler’s The Westerner (1940) is nevertheless well-directed and beguilingly seriocomic.  It moves slowly enough that we really take in the personalities of saddle tramp Cole (Gary Cooper) and the unjust “Judge” Roy Bean (Walter Brennan) as another cattlemen-vs.-sodbusters strand emerges.  In Bean the film offers the idea of once a baddie, always a baddie:  the phony judge warms to Cole and idolizes the theatre actress Lily Langtry, but he’s a brute.

The Westerner is technically strong, with cinematography by Gregg Toland, and so I wish I could see it on the big screen.

Cooper captivates.



Cover of "The Westerner"

Cover of The Westerner