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The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

4.4 out of 5 stars 164 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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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 (164 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008RNYMT2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,565 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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I've been to Judge Roy Bean's old bar and "courthouse" in Langtree (I think that's how it's spelled), Texas. His old pool table was still in the bar at the time, minus two legs. He truly did have an opera house, which was still standing at the time; very small, as was the bar. In reality, he was just another outlaw himself, and a colorful outlaw at that. A great movie. In my opinion, the funniest part of the movie was when "Bad Bob" came to town to shoot Bean. Bean was waiting for him while hiding in the hayloft of a barn, with a buffalo gun. Bean shot him in the back and blew a hole in him big enough to put a gallon bucket through. It was a totally unexpected and cowardly scene for the audience, but Bean's cowardliness was hilarious.
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