While passing through the town of Bannock, a bunch of drunken cattlemen go overboard with their celebrating and accidentally kill an old man with a stray shot. They return home to Sabbath unaware of his death. Bannock lawman Jered Maddox later arrives there to arrest everyone involved on a charge of murder. Sabbath is run by land baron Vince Bronson, a benevolent despot, who, upon hearing of the death, offers restitution for the incident.
I'm a lawman. Do you know what a lawman is, Crowe? He's a killer of men.
Lawman is directed by Michael Winner and written by Gerry Wilson. It stars Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Lee J. Cobb, Robert Duvall, Sheree North and Richard Jordan. Music is by Jerry Fielding and cinematography by Robert Paynter.
The Lawman of the title is Jared Maddox (Lancaster), who arrives in the town of Sabbath to serve warrants on the group of rowdies responsible for the death of an old man. His cold hearted approach to his work, however, doesn't endear him to the townsfolk.
A man gets caught in his own doing. Can't change what you are, and if you try, something always calls you back.
Traditional Western that deals in the conflict between law and justice, Lawman, like the leading man, broods significantly. The overriding theme of if Maddox's enforcement of the law justify's the means, is tailor made for Winner's affinity for all things vengeance flavoured. Violence is not in short supply, the director gleefully keeping things gory, and the characterisations of the principal players are smartly complex. The excellent cast turn in equally great performances, the Durango locales are beautifully utilised by Winner and Paynter, and the production design is grade "A" quality.
It's an anti-backlash movie of some substance, where spicy and thoughtful dialogue comes forth from the mouths of deftly shaded characters. Highly recommended to Adult Western fans. 8/10
Scimitar Films, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by Michael Winner, Gerald Wilson.
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Lee J. Cobb, Robert Duvall.
Genres: Adventure, Western
Keywords: revenge law man
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