Saturday, 9 May 2009

LAWMAN on dvd

LAWMAN (1971)
Burt Lancaster as Jared Maddox
Robert Ryan as Cotton Ryan
Lee J. Cobb as Vincent Bronson
Robert Duvall as Vern Adams
Sheree North as Laura Shelby
Joseph Wiseman as Lucas

Directed by Michael Winner

A bunch of drunken cowboys shoot up the town of Bannock and an old man is killed.
The lawman of Bannock, Jared Maddox, is after the killers but he has to go to the town of Sabbath to get the five men on his list.
He does all the right things by giving the list to the Marshal of Sabbath, Cotton Ryan, and asks him to bring them in. Cotton Ryan was good in his day but has settled into a quiet life and doesn't want to do it. Ryan has become a 'yes man' to the local cattle baron Vince Bronson who thinks that all he has to do for the matter to be forgotten is to pay off the dead man's family and give Maddox a 'little something' for his trouble.
Maddox can't be bought. The law's the law and justice has to be seen to be done even if that means that the five men get a slap on the wrist for the accidental killing. Without any help Jared Maddox has to do the job himself.
Bronson's foreman, Harvey Stenbaugh (Albert Salmi) has a better idea and that is to kill Maddox. An idea that two of the wanted men, Choctaw and Dekker, agree with. Stenbaugh confronts Maddox and, probably, wished that he didn't.
Eventually, Maddox catches up with Vern Adams who he wounds and while taking him back to town the lawman stops off at Laura Shelby's farm for the night. Laura is a former romantic interest of Maddox and it is not long before they are getting together again. Before long she is promising to make a go of it if Maddox can hang up his guns.
Maddox takes Adams in and tells Ryan that he is done and that he's leaving.
Unfortunately, there are others who want a different ending.
This is a real wow of a movie.
Burt Lancaster made us believe in his character as did all the other actors. What did surprise us was that there are no real bad guys in this and the plotlines were predictable and unpredictable at the same time.


  1. I've probably seen this in the dim and distant past but I can't recall it so I'll keep an eye open for it. If you fancy another Burt Lancaster/Robert Ryan western I'd highly recommend The Professionls (1966)(also Lee Marvin/Woody Strode). It has THE best last line of any western IMO.

  2. I've enjoyed this film many times and really must pick up a copy for myself.

    You reviewed the first Hawk book sometime ago, don't know whether you relized it but cover artist Robert Adams based many of his paintings of Hawk on Lancaster in this film.

  3. Agree - this film is a minor classic.

  4. Great western IMHO, an overlooked classic I think.