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The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

125 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Director John Huston ("The African Queen," "The Maltese Falcon") and a powerhouse cast make magic in this tongue-in-cheek Western saga. Academy Award-winner Paul Newman ("Nobody's Fool," "The Sting") shines as the real life, self-appointed judge. All-star supporting cast includes Academy Award-nominees Anthony Perkins ("Psycho") and Ava Gardner ("The Sun Also Rises"), Jacqueline Bisset ("Rich and Famous"), Roddy McDowell ("Planet of the Apes"), Tab Hunter ("Grease 2"), Ned Beatty ("Roseanne"), and then-newcomer Victoria Principal ("Dallas") in her feature film debut. Written by John Milius ("Clear and Present Danger," "Apocalypse Now").

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Newman, Jacqueline Bisset, Tab Hunter, John Huston, Stacy Keach
  • Directors: John Huston
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Archive
  • DVD Release Date: September 6, 2012
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008RNYMT2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,984 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 76 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on October 19, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This is not only my favorite western, but it is also one of my favorite films. I don't buy a lot of videos to own, but I had to have this one in my permanent library. When the DVD comes out I'll be sure to get it, too.

When I first saw this in the theaters in '72 I was attracted by the action, the humor, and the sentimentality ( I still can't keep a dry eye when I watch the final scene with the watch bear....) As I got older I realised that there is a lot more to this movie. There is a consistent theme about Law and Justice, and the distinction between them.

When we first see Roy Bean he is a petty outlaw, less than a man. He has total contempt for law and justice, which he doesn't distinguish between. Then, when he first becomes a "Judge", it is in dubious title only- to fill his own pockets. As time goes on he intuitively dispenses true Justice in the name of the Law. By the final climactic scene, when asked who he is , he replies simply, "Justice." He has gone full cycle, from a scoff-law and less than a man, to the embodyment of Justice itself, to more than a man.

You'll notice that his chief adversary is a Lawyer Gass, a man that knows everything about the Law and nothing about Justice. A "man" that steals more with legal trickery than the old outlaws ever dreamed of stealing. It was this movie that made me see that Law is the creation of men, while Justice is an ideal that emanates directly from God.

I don't know if this is the theme that John Huston had in mind, but it is what I get out of it.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By John Stich on June 15, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This ace of a flick really catches the spirit of the old judge who made his own law west of the Pecos. They don't make small colorful eccentric little films like this much these days. Everybody in the movie is right on the money too. A beautiful Jaqueline Bisset stars as the judge's tough assertive daughter. This must have been one of her earliest roles, and she turns in a fine endearing performance. And of course there are too many great names in this movie, Ned Beatty, Roddy McDowell, Stacey Keach, Tony Perkins, and of course Paul Newman as the judge himself. Do yourself a treat and pick this one up! You'll be glad you did.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ghenghis on December 13, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
The 60's and early 70's produced several great comedic westerns i.e. Cheyenne Social Club, Dirty Dingus Magee, McClintock, Great Scout, The Rounders, Evil Roy Slade, Support Your Local, etc. The list goes on and on. Those movies were all great, but pretty much one dimensional and set the tone for some collective disappointment over the content of Judge Roy Bean.
There are some great hilarious moments in this film but I never really got it until recently. It's actually a love story above all else, and a comedy, as well as John Huston's own statement about the retreating old west. If you view it in that context you'll be very impressed. If you're looking for pure comedy you may find that it drags in moments. However, this is the last time you'll get to see Paul Newman with that devilish Eddie Felson/Ben Quick light in his eyes, he was made for the part as a self-appointed and self-styled Judge/philosopher that dispenses justice to just about everyone that wanders through his town whether they deserve it or not. This film also showcases IMO the best villian of all time in Bad Bob, a murderous long haired psychotic albino come to lay ole' Beano to rest. Victoria Principal is so cute you just want to, well you'll see. Anyway, it's very funny but it is a love story. I found that rather distraction 30 years ago but I didn't get it. Well worth a watch.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David E.Baldwin on October 22, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This film is a true original. If one were to nutshell it you could call it a surreal dark comic western. It's rare that you get such individualistic talents as director John Huston, writer John Milius, and actor Paul Newman together for one project. It's rarer that the result produces gold. Huston, with some exception, was something of a cynic in his work. Milius, considered something of a bad boy in Hollywood, was known for his conservative political bent. As noted in a recent obituary for Newman he betrayed his matinee idol looks and pursued rebel roles and offbeat projects. As a previous reviewer stated Huston and Milius take liberties with Judge Bean's life. Though some of the elements are true for the most part this is a fanciful work. But it's an artistic triumph. If one needs to pursue the "truth" go to the library. This film is completely mesmerizing with witty dialogue that crackles. This is definitely one of Newman's more underrated performances. It's an understated performance that barely conceals his off-kilter character. Stacy Keach has a great cameo as Bad Bob an adversary of Bean's who has the audacity to denigrate the Judge's feminine ideal, Lillie Langtry. This isn't just a great western, if one could call it that, but a great film, period.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hellerstedt on December 3, 2005
Format: DVD
Solidly entertaining, whimsical biography of the hangin' judge west of the Pecos. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN stars a growly and bearded Paul Newman in the title role, guide to the life of a legend of the Old West and host to a revolving series of guest stars.

`Whimsical' seems kind of an odd word now that I think about it. After all, it connotes a lightness of spirit, and that's a hard choice of words to use for a movie that features an on-screen hanging or five. `Whimsy' is defined as `an odd or fanciful or capricious idea,' and `whimsy' begets `whimsical', which is made of sturdier stuff that its pappy - `Whimsical: adj. Erratic in behavior or degree of unpredictability.' I'll let the word stand. John Huston's JUDGE ROY BEAN is erratic and unpredictable enough. John Milius wrote the original screenplay. With movies like `Jeremiah Johnson' and `Geronimo: An American Legend' among his credits, Milius has given ample evidence that he's a `print-the-legend' type of writer. And he takes his heroes seriously. Underneath everything - and everything piles high in this movie - there's a script that wants to make a legendary hero out of its title character.

That serious intent is subverted by Newman, whose charm is unsuccessfully buried beneath a beard and gruff exterior, and Huston, who peppers the whole thing with darkly humorous vignettes. In fact, JUDGE ROY BEAN is more or less a series of disconnected incidents, from Bean's massacre of a bar full of desperados who rolled him for his (stolen) cash and left him for dead to his circa 1920 explosive showdown with an unscrupulous eastern lawyer played by Roddy McDowell.
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