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The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)

Paul Newman , Jacqueline Bisset , John Huston  |  PG |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)

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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 (75 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008RNYMT2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,351 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Law is the handmaiden of Justice." 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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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Texan Reviews John Huston's Judge Roy Bean 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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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paul Newman's Best Performance! April 7, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
I never understood why this film did not succeed when it was released at the box office. I have always considered it to be Paul Newman's finest work. It must be seen to be appreciated, and there are so many detailed reviews on the web that I will not reproduce them here. Suffice it to say that everyone probably has a Lilly Langtry in their life, a longing for a place like The Eagle's Nest, and a cloaked desire to re-invent their life as Paul Newman did as Judge Roy Bean. This film is one of my 5 lifelong favorites, along with 2001, A Space Odyssey!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously Surrealistic Western 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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