Westerner, The (1940)

In William Wyler's superb Western, Gary Cooper stars as drifter Cole Hardin, who's falsely accused of stealing a horse and is brought into the Vinegarroon saloon-court of Judge Roy Bean (Walter Brennan), the sole "Law West of the Pecos." While the jury is deliberating, Cole discovers Bean's idolatry of Lily Langtry, the beautiful "Jersey Lily." Cole tells the judge that he knows Lily well.  Stunned, Bean maneuvers to have Cole reprieved, so that he can get a lock of Lily's hair.
 
Cole only gets away because he steals the old man's gun. Continuing on a journey toward California, he stops at the farm of Caliphet Mathews, whose daughter, Jane-Ellen, tells him of the homesteaders' fight with the cattlemen. Cole decides to remain and help the farmers' cause. 
 
About to arrest him, Judge Bean suddenly remembers the lock of hair. He promises to help round up cattle and they set out together. Cole gives Bean a lock of Lily's hair, taken from Jane-Ellen's. Later on, the Judge's men burn crops and homes of the farmers and Jane-Ellen's father is killed. Bean goes to Fort Davis to see Lily Langtry, buying out the entire house for his pleasure. Cole and Bean shoot it out and Bean collapses on the floor. Cole picks him up and escorts him to "Jersey Lily," whose hand he kisses before he dies.
 
Cooper is good, but Brennan steals the picture, making Judge Roy Bean a memorable character, for which he received his third Supporting Actor Oscar in five years.  Cinematographer Toland's imagery is splendid.  Tiomkin's original score was not used; instead Alfred Newman was asked to do the music (uncredited).
 
End Note
 
Dana Andrews and Forrest Tucker made their screen debuts in this film.
 
Oscar Nominations: 3
 
Supporting Actor: Walter Brennan
Original Story: Stuart N. Lake
Interior Decoration (b/w): James Basevi
 
Oscar Awards: 1
 
Supporting Actor
 
Oscar Context:
 
"Arise, My Love" won the Original Story Oscar (by Benjamin Glazer and John S. Toldi), and "Pride and Prejudice" the black-and-white Interior Decoration.
 
Cast:
 
Gary Cooper (Cole Hardin)
Walter Brennan (Judge Roy Bean)
Doris Davenport (Jane-Ellen Mathews)
Fred Stone (Caliphet Mathews)
Paul Hurst (Chickenfoot)
Chill Wills (Southeast)
Charles Halton (Mort Borrow)
Forrest Tucker (Wade Harper)
Tom Tyler (King Evans)
Arthur Aylsworth (Mr. Dixon)
Lupita Tovar (Teresita)
Julia Rivero (Juan Gomez)
Lillian Bond (Lily Langtry)
Dana Andrews (Bart Cobble)
Roger Gray (Eph Stringer)
Jack Pennick (Bantry)
Trevor Bardette (Shad Wilkins)
Bill Steele (Tex Cole)
Blackjack Ward (Buck Harrigan)
James "Jim" Corey (Lee Webb)
Buck Moulton (Charles Evans)
Ted Wells (Joe Lawrence)
Joe de la Cruz (Mex)
Frank Cordell (Man)
Philip Connor (John-yancy)
Capt. C.E. Anderson (Hezekiah Willever)
Arthur "Art" Mix (Seth Tucker)
William Gillis (Leon Beauregard)
Buck Connor (Abraham Wilson)
Dan Borzage (Joe Yates)
Speed Hanson (Walt McGary)
Gertrude Bennett (Abigail)
Miriam Sherwin (Martha)
Annabelle Rousseau (Elizabeth)
Helen Foster (Janice)
Connie Leon (Langtry's Maid)
Charles Coleman (Langtry's Manager)
Lew Kelly (Ticket Man)
Heinie Conklin (Man at Window)
Lucien Littlefield (A Stranger)
Corbet Morris (Orchestra Leader)
Stanley Andrews (Sheriff)
Phil Tead (Prisoner)
Henry Roquemore (Stage Manager)
Bill Bauman (Man getting haircut)
Hank Bell (Deputy)
Marie Layton, Bob Fleming
 
Credits:
 
Samuel Goldwyn Production, released by United Artists.
Director: William Wyler.
Producer: Samuel Goldwyn.
Scenarists: Jo Swerling, Niven Busch.
Photographer: Gregg Toland.
Art Director: James Basevi.
Musical Score: Dmitri Tiomkin.
Editor: Daniel Mandell.
Set Decorator: Julia Heron.
Costumer: Irene Saltern.
Sound Recorder: Fred Lau.
Assistant Director: Walter Mayo.
Assistant Photographer: Archie Stout.
Based on an original story by Stuart N. Lake.

 

 

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