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Warlock

4.4 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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(May 24, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In this Classic Western, Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn clean up a lawless town, only to discover there's even more unfinished business.

Amazon.com

Warlock is a fascinating yet frustrating CinemaScope Western, almost unique in the genre for being based on a literarily respectable novel--Oakley Hall's 1958 recasting of the Wyatt-Earp-in-Tombstone legend. As adapted by TV dramatist Robert Alan Aurthur, the tale focuses on three men: the elegant gambler/gunfighter/lawman-for-hire Blaisdell (Henry Fonda in the Earp part); his lethal partner and creepily possessive best friend Morgan (Anthony Quinn as a variation on Doc Holliday); and Johnny Gannon (Richard Widmark), a ranch cowboy more burdened with scruples than his fellow rowdies, who have made the silver-mining town of Warlock their violent playground. To reclaim their community, the townsfolk strike a bargain with the devil they don't know--Blaisdell--in hopes of being delivered from the devil they do, the cowboys and their cold-blooded boss McQuown (former MGM juve Tom Drake in the Ike Clanton role).

Fonda's and Widmark's characters evolve intriguingly; Blaisdell affords Western aficionados early hints of Fonda's badman Frank in Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West, while Widmark's Gannon reforms, becomes town deputy, and has to go up against not only his old cronies but the hired marshal. Sad to say, despite its three strong leads and a script full of shootings, sadism, and no end of betrayals, the movie keeps bogging down from too much undigested backstory, too much talk, and Edward Dmytryk's flatfooted direction. Even the redoubtable cinematographer Joe MacDonald, who so stunningly shot John Ford's Earp-in-Tombstone classic My Darling Clementine 13 years earlier, disappoints with bland, featureless lighting better suited to a TV show. Speaking of which, future Star Trekker DeForest Kelley plays the only other McQuown rider with a conscience. --Richard T. Jameson


Special Features

  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Movietone news footage

Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn, Dorothy Malone, Dolores Michaels
  • Directors: Edward Dmytryk
  • Writers: Oakley Hall, Robert Alan Aurthur
  • Producers: Edward Dmytryk
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: May 24, 2005
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007PALQG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,452 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Warlock" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
The 1959 film "Warlock" is one of those great surprises for movie fans. It's a classic western, undiscovered, awaiting the lucky viewer who happens to stumble across it. After viewing this dark, almost gothic oater, most viewers will ask themselves, "Why haven't I heard of this film?!"
I'm not sure as to why "Warlock" has been relatively ignored over the years, though I think the film is derivative of other films. I think the generic Hollywood backlots where "Warlock" was undoubtedly filmed certainly detract from its overall allure. But simply put, "Warlock" fell through the cracks, and it's a film deserving of reexamination.
Part "High Noon," part "Shane," part "The Searchers," "Warlock" tells the tale of a town victimized by crime. They hire a gunfighter in the form of Henry Fonda, who arrives with a crippled sidekick (Anthony Quinn) in tow. Fonda's character becomes a semi-celebrity, granted carte blanche as he calmly strolls the streets adorned in shining pistols and dark suits. The cantankerous Quinn, lugging around a shotgun, watches Fonda's back while sipping champagne and taking care of the finances.
But the town (named Warlock) is anything but a simple job. A former love of Quinn's (Dorothy Malone) is a resident, and he wants her back. Richard Widmark also resides here, and he's none too happy about the hiring of the gunfighters, sensing the community should stand up for itself. A young woman (Dolores Michaels) also catches Fonda's eye, and for the first time he begins to wonder about settling down. All of these emotional dramas play out, having tragic circumstances.
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Format: DVD
One of the great, forgotten westerns, Edward Dmytryk's WARLOCK is the story of the little southwestern town of Warlock and its ongoing battle with a gang of law breaking desperados. The gang is led by Abe McQuown (Tom Drake,) a bad hombre who we can safely assume has ruled Warlock for a long, long time. The first scene in the film shows McQuown and gang `calling out' the town's deputy sheriff. If the opening scene is a little reminiscent of the closing scenes of `High Noon', the deputy sheriff's inglorious exit is not. He's humiliated out of town, and McQuown's control of the cowed town is once again secure and unquestioned.

One emergency town council meeting later the town agrees to spend the exorbitant amount of $400 a month to buy the services of gunslinger Clay Blaisedell (Henry Fonda) and his tag-along friend, gambling operator and dime magazine hero Tom Morgan (Anthony Quinn), the `Black Rattlesnake of St. James.' Since Warlock is not an incorporated town, Blaisedell becomes town marshal `by acceptance.' In other words, he's not legally a law officer because the law doesn't recognize his authority. The town accepts him to keep the peace, which more or less means bringing the McQuown gang to heel. Blaisedell comes with a notorious reputation of his own, and the town is increasingly uncomfortable using anarchy and murder to destroy anarchy and murder. Of course, nobody wants to take over as deputy sheriff, either - all that job offers is $40 a month and a spot in the short line for a pine box. Fortunately, a former McQuown gang member, Johnny Gannon (Richard Widmark), agrees to take the job and help Warlock `grow up.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Warlock is one of those movies that got lost in the shuffle in the years following its release. Subsequent classics like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Magnificent Seven, The Man With No Name trilogy, The Wild Bunch, etc, all diverted attention away from this 1959 Western masterpiece. Expertly directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda (in one of his best Western roles), Anthony Quinn (in arguably HIS best Western role), DeForest Kelley, and Dorothy Malone, this is a movie that - upon further review - truly does hold up very well against even the best Westerns of all time.

Fonda plays a Marshall (gun) for hire who is brought in to "clean up" the town of Warlock. He does so with the proviso that he can do it his way, with no interference from the town council. They agree, but he warns them that at first they will love him and what he does, but later on they will come to hate him and his methods. His prediction comes true, but the way the story plays out belies the usual Western cliche's. The script is expertly written with characters that ring true in a rather sophisticated storyline.

Warlock, in a way, combines the classic Western styles of the 40's & 50's, with what would be seen in the 60's, and even foreshadows some elements that would be seen later in modern (1980's to present) Westerns. It is a great character study, and has (rightly) been called the quintessential "Psychological Western." While Warlock isn't a "shoot 'em up" Western, the action sequences are very good and the movie is riveting throughout.

The DVD transfer lives up to the high standards of the movie itself. The picture is sharp and the print is clean (for a movie of this age), and the colors are vibrant. This is a movie that belongs in the collection of every Western fan.
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