Monday, 18 July 2011

Wacky Wicked West

Kirk Douglas stars as Paris Pittman, an outlaw caught after an audacious heist and sentenced to a desert prison in Mankiewicz's There Was a Crooked Man. Accompanying Kirk during his stay are the excellent Burgess Meredith and Warren Oates and it's not long before a new, reformist warden turns up (played by Henry Fonda) with big dreams of rehabilitating the reprobates. It's quite jolly, with plenty of wit and one liners but it's a fairly dark, amoral tale as Pittman's ruthlessness supersedes all even once he's manufactured a jailbreak.

The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean is a John Huston Western from the early 70's and, like Crooked Man, it's a strange blend of comedy and merciless violence. Paul Newman stars as the titular Judge who after being thrown out of an isolated brothel returns to kill everyone taking over the local town in the process. He sets himself up as a, rather capricious dispenser of Justice and proceeds to kill any evil-doers who venture into town, divvying up the booty and improving the town over the years. It's a bit of an epic with a rich cast including Oates, McDowell, Perkins, Gardner, Keach and Beatty and despite it's length it a highly enjoyable watch about a singular individual.

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