The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)

PG | 120 or 124 mins | Biography, Western | December 1972

Director:

John Huston

Writer:

John Milius

Producer:

John Foreman

Cinematographer:

Richard Moore

Editor:

Hugh S. Fowler

Production Designer:

Tambi Larsen
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HISTORY

A working title of the film was Law and Order . After the company's opening credit, a map of Texas appears on the screen and the camera zooms in to an area of the map showing the “Rio Pecos.” The map is followed by a written statement, claiming that the Pecos River marked the boundaries of law and order at the turn of the century, beyond which there were “only bad men and rattlesnakes.” The second of two cards reads: "Maybe this isn't the way it was...it's the way it should have been." Although the online copyright record lists Coleytown Productions, Inc., as the claimant, the opening credits contains a 1972 copyright statement reading: “Coleytown Productions, Inc., and The First Artists Production Company, Ltd. and National General Pictures Corporation.”
       The opening sequence begins with Paul Newman's before the title credit. Preceded by the statement “Guest Stars in Alphabetical Order,” eight of the stars' opening credits appear one at a time, without character names, except for the last card, which reads, "And Ava Gardner as Lily Langtry." Except for Gardner and Roddy McDowall ( Frank Gass ), the eight actors appeared in only one episode of “Roy Bean’s” life. Gardner’s image is shown throughout the film in photographs, until the final sequence, showing the character’s visit to the museum. McDowall’s character appears significantly throughout the last half of the film. Also appearing in a cameo role, portraying “Grizzly Adams,” is director John Huston.
       Seven actors, who are presented as “co-starring” in the film, are listed together on the next card. The list ends with "and participation by Michael Sarrazin." Sarrazin ... More Less

A working title of the film was Law and Order . After the company's opening credit, a map of Texas appears on the screen and the camera zooms in to an area of the map showing the “Rio Pecos.” The map is followed by a written statement, claiming that the Pecos River marked the boundaries of law and order at the turn of the century, beyond which there were “only bad men and rattlesnakes.” The second of two cards reads: "Maybe this isn't the way it was...it's the way it should have been." Although the online copyright record lists Coleytown Productions, Inc., as the claimant, the opening credits contains a 1972 copyright statement reading: “Coleytown Productions, Inc., and The First Artists Production Company, Ltd. and National General Pictures Corporation.”
       The opening sequence begins with Paul Newman's before the title credit. Preceded by the statement “Guest Stars in Alphabetical Order,” eight of the stars' opening credits appear one at a time, without character names, except for the last card, which reads, "And Ava Gardner as Lily Langtry." Except for Gardner and Roddy McDowall ( Frank Gass ), the eight actors appeared in only one episode of “Roy Bean’s” life. Gardner’s image is shown throughout the film in photographs, until the final sequence, showing the character’s visit to the museum. McDowall’s character appears significantly throughout the last half of the film. Also appearing in a cameo role, portraying “Grizzly Adams,” is director John Huston.
       Seven actors, who are presented as “co-starring” in the film, are listed together on the next card. The list ends with "and participation by Michael Sarrazin." Sarrazin appears only in a photograph as “Rose Bean’s” aviator husband. Following Sarrazin’s name is a credit reading, "introducing Victoria Principal." The film marked Principal’s feature film debut. The ending credits, which appear in a different order and omit Sarrazin, provide each character’s name.
       A black-and-white photo montage depicts the “marshals” arresting several outlaws. As the song “Marmalade, Molasses and Honey” is heard on the soundtrack, a film montage shows Roy Bean, “Marie Elena” and the bear picnicking. Occasionally, black-and-white photographs turn into color shots, introducing a scene. The film contains instances of fantasy, such as the killing of outlaw “Bad Bob,” whose gunshot wound leaves a hole through his body large enough to see through. Onscreen and offscreen narration, often used to bridge time gaps in the story, is supplied by characters “Reverend LaSalle,” “Sam Dodd,” “Frank Gass” and “Tector Crites,” portrayed by Anthony Perkins, Tab Hunter, McDowall and Ned Beatty, respectively. Often, the narrations are spoken directly into the camera addressing the audience and occasionally reporting information from beyond the grave.
       Although, according to studio production notes, Huston did not commit to an accurate portrayal of Roy Bean’s life, many of the events in the film are based on actual incidents or on the legends and myths that surround him. The real-life Bean (ca. 1825—1903) was born in Kentucky and, at the age of fifteen, followed his older brothers west. After many adventures, he settled in Texas with his much younger Mexican wife and had several children. Unlike the film, in which Bean declared himself judge, he was appointed, and later elected to the position of Justice of the Peace and served in various districts between 1882 and 1902. Bean kept a saloon in Vinegaroon and, later, Langtry.
       Although the town of Langtry was named for a railroad man, Bean, a teller of tall tales, claimed it was named for the Jersey-born British actress, Lillie Langtry (1853—1929), with whom he was infatuated. In the film, Langtry’s first name is spelled as "Lily" in the onscreen credits for Ava Gardner. As shown in the film, Bean hung Langtry's picture behind his bar and named his saloon, “The Jersey Lilly,” a misspelling of Langtry’s nickname, which was derived from her place of birth, Jersey in the Channel Islands. According to modern sources, there is a legend that the sign painter mistakenly added the second "L" in Lilly.
       From the saloon, which doubled as a courthouse, Bean dispensed an arbitrary kind of justice. As there was no jail, criminals were punished with fines, which Bean kept for himself, and he is said to have shortchanged his saloon customers and fined them for the amount if they complained. Despite his reputation for hanging, modern sources state that the real Bean may never have hanged anyone. As depicted in the film, a man was brought before him for killing a Chinese worker, but unlike the film, Bean acquitted the man because his law book, an 1879 Revised Statutes of Texas to which he often referred, did not specifically mention “Chinamen.” Adjacent to his saloon Bean kept a menagerie of animals, including a beer-drinking black bear, which was chained to the porch and to whom some offenders were tied just out of its reach. In 1898, The Jersey Lilly burned down, but Bean replaced it with a smaller building, which is now a Texas landmark and museum.
       Bean’s exploits, real and fabricated, which were written about in newspapers and dime novels, brought him fame within his own lifetime. As shown in the film, Bean corresponded with Langtry, although they never met. He did see her perform in A Wife’s Peril in San Antonio, but did not try to meet her. In 1903, Bean died in his sleep after a drinking binge. Several months after his death, the actress stopped in Langtry to meet Bean and, similar to what is portrayed in the film, was at some point given one of his guns, which she bequeathed to the Jersey Museum in Great Britain. Although Bean had the reputation of a “rascal,” history has credited him with bringing law and order to an otherwise lawless area and he is part of the legends and lore of the Great American West.
       In Aug 1971, a DV news item reported that actor Paul Newman was developing a project, titled Law and Order , which was written by John Milius. The news item stated that the production company would either be Coleytown Productions, Inc., First Artists Productions or Newman-Foreman Company, Inc., all of which Newman partly owned. According to Aug 1971 Var and DV news items, Mike Medavoy served as agent for the film. Aug 1971 Var and DV news items also stated that Richard Lederer originally worked on the project with Milius, although his contribution to the final film has not been confirmed.
       According to Filmfacts , the film was shot entirely in the vicinity of Tucson, AZ. Most of the filming, according to the studio production notes, occurred in Happy Valley, forty miles east of Tucson. According to studio production notes, the main set of the town was changed "almost daily" to depict how the town grew, adding buildings and, eventually, oil rigs. According to the Var review, the cost of the fire sequence brought the project $1,000,000 over budget. Although some HR production charts list Jessica Tandy in the cast, she did not appear in the final film. Modern sources add Mark Headley ( Billy the Kid ), Rusty Lee ( Tuba player ) and Duncan Inches to the cast.
       A Jan 1973 DV news item reported that The Dick Cavett Show aired a tribute to the movie industry on 22 Jan 1973, which honored Newman, Huston, producer John Foreman and the film. The LAT review praised The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean as “one of the best of the current cycle of so-called ‘revisionist’ westerns.” The song "Marmalade, Molasses and Honey" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. As reported in Feb 1973 HR , DV and Var news items, the distribution company National General Pictures filed suit against General Cinema Corp., after the latter terminated an exclusive run engagement at the Crest Theater in Westwood one month before the film’s 14 Mar 1973 general Los Angeles release. The outcome of this suit has not been determined.
       In 1940, Walter Brennan portrayed Judge Roy Bean in the United Artists production The Westerner (see below), starring Gary Cooper, which was directed by William Wyler and featured Lillian Bond as Lillie Langtry. In 1956, a television series, Judge Roy Bean , starred Edgar Buchanan in the title role. In 1995, Ned Beatty, who portrayed “Tector Crites,” was cast as Roy Bean in Streets of Laredo , a television mini-series airing on CBS that was based on the novel by Larry McMurtry. The character of Lillie Langtry has appeared in several films and television episodes, most notably two British mini-series in which Francesca Annis portrayed the actress, the 1978 Lillie and the 1975 Edward the King . The real Lillie Langtry appeared in one film, Famous Players’ 1913 two-reeler, His Neighbor's Wife , which was directed by Edwin S. Porter. John “Grizzly” Adams (1812—1860) was an actual fur trapper, whose training of bears for zoos and private collectors made him an American legend. His story has been fictionalized on television and in several movies, the first of which was the 1974 feature film The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams , which starred Dan Haggerty in the title role and was directed by Richard Friedenberg. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Dec 1972
p. 4548.
Cosmopolitan
Feb 1973.
---
Cue
23 Dec 1972.
---
Daily Variety
10 Aug 1971.
---
Daily Variety
26 Aug 1971.
---
Daily Variety
16 Jan 1973.
---
Daily Variety
14 Feb 1973
p. 1, 6.
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 607-10.
Films and Filming
Mar 1973
p. 46.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 1971
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jan 1972
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1972
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 1973.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
20 Dec 1972.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Dec 1972
Section IV, p. 14.
Motion Picture Herald
Dec 1972.
---
New Republic
20 Jan 1973
p. 26.
New York Times
19 Dec 1972
p. 52.
New Yorker
13 Jan 1973
pp. 86-88.
The Observer Review
23 Mar 1973.
---
The Times (London)
25 Mar 1973.
---
Time
25 Dec 1972
p. 75.
Variety
13 Dec 1972
p. 20.
Variety
14 Feb 1973.
---
Wall Street Journal
29 Dec 1972.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A John Huston Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Assoc ward des
Men's ward
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Dubbing mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
Hairstylist
Mens' hair consultant
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Asst to John Huston
Asst to the prod
Animal trainer
Scr supv
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"Marmalade, Molasses and Honey," music by Maurice Jarre, lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, sung by Andy Williams
"Yellow Rose of Texas," traditional.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Law and Order
Release Date:
December 1972
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 18 December 1972
Los Angeles opening: 22 December 1972
Production Date:
ended early January 1972 in Arizona
Copyright Claimant:
Coleytown Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 July 1972
Copyright Number:
LP42492
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
120 or 124
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23345
SYNOPSIS

In the 1890s, in Texas, outlaw Roy Bean arrives at the ramshackle saloon in Vinegaroon, a village of poor Mexicans. Because no law has jurisdiction west of the Pecos River, Bean hopes to be given sanctuary by outlaws living there, but the debauched fugitives, who spend their days drinking and whoring, reject Bean’s request. Instead, they beat him, steal his money, put a noose around his neck and tie it to his horse. Then, they scare the animal into dragging him away. After Marie Elena, a young woman of the village, comes to his aid and gives him a gun, Bean returns to the saloon and shoots dead his adversaries. Soon after, Reverend LaSalle, a traveling preacher, encounters Bean guarding the saloon from a rocking chair outside the door and convinces him to bury the dead. After finding an old law book in the saloon, Bean declares himself a judge and promises the villagers a new era of peace and civilization, no matter who he has to kill. Bean gives the villagers the outlaws’ horses, guns and land, but, shrewdly, they accept only the horses and name him their “patrone,” placing themselves under his protection. Marie Elena, whom Bean calls his “angel,” offers to live with him, but he settles her in a little shack next to the saloon, which he converts to serve as his residence and courthouse. He names the saloon “The Jersey Lily,” after the famous actress Lily Langtry, whose poster he nails to the wall. Although he has never met Langtry, Bean loves her in a courtly manner and writes to her often. On the occasion that he receives an ... +


In the 1890s, in Texas, outlaw Roy Bean arrives at the ramshackle saloon in Vinegaroon, a village of poor Mexicans. Because no law has jurisdiction west of the Pecos River, Bean hopes to be given sanctuary by outlaws living there, but the debauched fugitives, who spend their days drinking and whoring, reject Bean’s request. Instead, they beat him, steal his money, put a noose around his neck and tie it to his horse. Then, they scare the animal into dragging him away. After Marie Elena, a young woman of the village, comes to his aid and gives him a gun, Bean returns to the saloon and shoots dead his adversaries. Soon after, Reverend LaSalle, a traveling preacher, encounters Bean guarding the saloon from a rocking chair outside the door and convinces him to bury the dead. After finding an old law book in the saloon, Bean declares himself a judge and promises the villagers a new era of peace and civilization, no matter who he has to kill. Bean gives the villagers the outlaws’ horses, guns and land, but, shrewdly, they accept only the horses and name him their “patrone,” placing themselves under his protection. Marie Elena, whom Bean calls his “angel,” offers to live with him, but he settles her in a little shack next to the saloon, which he converts to serve as his residence and courthouse. He names the saloon “The Jersey Lily,” after the famous actress Lily Langtry, whose poster he nails to the wall. Although he has never met Langtry, Bean loves her in a courtly manner and writes to her often. On the occasion that he receives an acknowledgment of receipt from Langtry’s secretary, he cherishes it as if it were touched by Langtry herself. One day outlaw Big Bart Jackson and his gang ride into town. Normally Bean would try and hang them, but as they have money, he instead invites them to buy drinks at his saloon. Reasoning that a judge needs someone to prosecute, the men offer to find some outlaws for Bean to hang. Bean then recruits Bart and his gang members Nick the Grub, Fermel Parlee and Whorehouse Lucky Jim to be marshals. The fifth member, Tector Crites, becomes Bean’s saloonkeeper. Agreeing to uphold the law “for Texas and Miss Lily,” the marshals first round up Sam Dodd, who robbed and killed a Chinese man. Although Dodd says the law book does not mention “Chinamen,” Bean, claiming to be an advanced thinker, hangs Dodd and takes the money he stole as fines. As Bean and his marshals play poker, a drunk, Snake River Rufus Krile, fires indiscriminately in the saloon. The marshals ignore Krile's outburst until he takes aim at Miss Lily’s poster, after which they simultaneously shoot him dead. Discovering that Krile shot Miss Lily through the heart, Bean rules his death a justifiable homicide and fines the dead man all his money. The marshals arrest criminals of various misdeeds throughout the countryside and the executed men soon fill a cemetery outside the saloon. From the confiscated funds of the doomed men, Bean makes civic improvements and both he and the marshals prosper. He lavishes Marie Elena with clothes from the Sears Roebuck catalog, but otherwise keeps distant from her. When a traveling bordello rides into town, Bean banishes the pimp and, after matching each prostitute with one of his marshals, rules that the women spend a year in their protective custody. Although Bean takes one prostitute for himself, Marie Elena fires at them with a rifle, causing Bean to advise the woman to steal a fast horse and escape. Bean follows the angry Marie Elena to the edge of town. While gazing at the desert, he predicts a future of tall buildings, factories, a railroad station and a big granite courthouse. Bean promises Marie Elena that she can have anything, and when she asks for a music box, he suggests that it will play “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” Although Marie Elena moves into the saloon with Bean, he continues to worship Langtry as an unattainable goddess but admits that Marie Elena, his “mortal woman,” is dearer. One day, when the wagon of elderly mountain man Grizzly Adams breaks down outside of town, Grizzly, expecting to die soon, asks Bean to adopt his “son,” the large, bear-swilling bear that accompanies him. Before leaving, Grizzly cuts the bear loose and threatens to haunt Bean if he mistreats the animal. Although at first annoyed, Bean and Marie Elena enjoy the bear’s company and take him on picnics. Soon after, Bad Bob, an evil albino outlaw coveting Bean’s authority and prosperity, gallops into town, shooting off his guns and scaring everyone. When Bob challenges Bean to a showdown, Bean, stationed in a nearby hayloft, shoots him dead from behind. Some time later, lawyer Frank Gass comes to town, claiming to have inherited the saloon from its previous owner. Bean tosses Gass in the bear’s cage until the lawyer drops his claim, and then suggests a professional relationship, in which Gass will use his knowledge of the law to ensure that Bean will be the beneficiary of the estates of the executed criminals. Although Gass receives a percentage of the estates, he secretly holds a grudge against Bean for caging him and, some time later, hires an assassin to murder Bean during the night. Although the bear kills the assassin, it dies in the struggle, instilling a sense of foreboding in Bean. The prostitutes, who now consider themselves respectable, form an alliance with Gass to despose Bean and begin to gossip maliciously about the pregnant Marie Elena. When the wives demand that Bean desist from calling them "whores" and stop displaying the bodies of the men he hangs, Bean senses that he is becoming a pariah in his own town. Deciding to travel to San Antonio to see Langtry perform, Bean arrives in the city, looking out of place in top hat and tall boots. Upon discovering that the show is sold out, Bean falls victim to con men who, claiming that they can introduce him to Langtry, lure him into an alley, where they knock him unconscious and rob him. Returning home with a music box for Marie Elena, Bean learns that she is near death after giving birth to their daughter, who is named Rose after the song. Despite Bean’s “ruling” that she survive, Marie Elena dies, and when an inebriated doctor arrives too late, Bean decides to hang him. The execution is stopped by Gass, who became mayor during Bean’s absence through a political coup assisted by the prostitutes. Although the marshals offer to ignore Gass’s claim to power and carry on as before, Bean, defeated, rides off into the desert. As Tector rears Rose in the saloon and regales her with tales of the old days, Gass brings in Eastern killers and hoodlum politicians. He fires the marshals, who take lowly jobs and are abandoned by the prostitutes. Gang wars erupt, oil is discovered and The Jersey Lily is dwarfed by oil rigs. To obtain the oil under the saloon, Gass evicts Rose and Tector. Although Rose, who is now grown to adulthood, wants to fight him in court, Tector explains that Gass has corrupt officials on his side. Just then, Rose looks up and sees the silhouette of a man on a horse, whom Tector identifies as Bean. That evening, Bean and his reunited marshals are ready to fight when Gass’s men surround the saloon. A shootout commences, in which the town erupts in flame while Bean chases Gass to his death, and Rose and the marshals fight his henchmen. In the commotion, Rose sees Bean ride his horse into Gass’s hotel, where, from the second floor balcony, he calls out, “For Texas and Miss Lily!” just before a burning oil rig falls on the wooden building. The Jersey Lily survives the fire, but the wells dry up and the criminals leave, allowing the desert to reclaim the land. After Rose marries an aviator who crash-landed his plane, Tector and Billy, the stationmaster, remain to run the saloon, which has been turned into a museum devoted to Bean and Miss Lily. Langtry is touring the country when her railcar, also called “The Jersey Lily,” stops at the ghost town out of curiosity. Recalling the “funny old judge’s” letters, Langtry listens to stories of Bean’s devotion. When Tector gives her a letter he found in the old law book in which Bean writes about the honor of adoring her, Langtry wistfully acknowledges that Bean was “quite a character.”
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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