The Westerner (1940)

98 or 100 mins | Western | 20 September 1940

Producer:

Samuel Goldwyn

Cinematographer:

Gregg Toland

Editor:

Daniel Mandell

Production Designer:

James Basevi

Production Company:

Samuel Goldwyn, Inc.
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HISTORY

Although onscreen credits list the character played by Dana Andrews as "Bart Cobble," the Var review lists his name as "Hod Johnson." According to news items in HR , the film was shot on location near Tucson, AZ, in a town that was established for the express purpose of being a headquarters for the crew. When the newly made town was founed, then governor R. T. Jones was present. Shooting was briefly delayed when star Gary Cooper was injured in a fall from a horse. Later items in HR note that in Feb 1940, director Lewis Milestone and photographer Rudolph Maté shot additional scenes for the film. The DV review adds that the picture cost approximately $2,000,000 to produce. Judge Roy Bean, who called himself "the Law West of the Pecos," was a real person. He was justice of the peace in Langtry, Texas, named after British actress Lily Langtry whom he loved from afar. Walter Brennan won his third Academy Award for his portrayal of Judge Bean in this picture. Brennan was the only performer to win three Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Story and Best Art Direction. According to modern sources, Cooper almost broke his contract with Goldwyn because he did not want to play the role of Cole Harden. Modern sources also note that Goldwyn attempted to distribute the picture through Warner Bros., but United Artists prevented this by threatening Warners with a lawsuit. Modern sources state that Lillian Hellman and Oliver La Farge did rewrites on the script, ... More Less

Although onscreen credits list the character played by Dana Andrews as "Bart Cobble," the Var review lists his name as "Hod Johnson." According to news items in HR , the film was shot on location near Tucson, AZ, in a town that was established for the express purpose of being a headquarters for the crew. When the newly made town was founed, then governor R. T. Jones was present. Shooting was briefly delayed when star Gary Cooper was injured in a fall from a horse. Later items in HR note that in Feb 1940, director Lewis Milestone and photographer Rudolph Maté shot additional scenes for the film. The DV review adds that the picture cost approximately $2,000,000 to produce. Judge Roy Bean, who called himself "the Law West of the Pecos," was a real person. He was justice of the peace in Langtry, Texas, named after British actress Lily Langtry whom he loved from afar. Walter Brennan won his third Academy Award for his portrayal of Judge Bean in this picture. Brennan was the only performer to win three Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Story and Best Art Direction. According to modern sources, Cooper almost broke his contract with Goldwyn because he did not want to play the role of Cole Harden. Modern sources also note that Goldwyn attempted to distribute the picture through Warner Bros., but United Artists prevented this by threatening Warners with a lawsuit. Modern sources state that Lillian Hellman and Oliver La Farge did rewrites on the script, and that William Wyler, dissatisfied with Dimitri Tiomkin's score, had Alfred Newman rewrite it, although Tiomkin received sole screen credit.
       In Sep 1940, Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan starred in a Lux Radio Theater version of the story. Several other films have been based on the exploits of Judge Roy Bean. A character in RKO's 1938 film The Law West of Tombstone (see above) was loosely based on the judge, and the 1972 First Artists Production The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean , directed by John Huston and starring Paul Newman and Huston, detailed the exploits of the judge. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Jul 40
p. 3.
Daily Variety
19 Sep 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
20 Sep 40
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 39
p. 4, 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 39
Sec. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 39
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Feb 40
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Sep 40
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
20 Sep 40
p. 1, 6
Motion Picture Herald
10 Feb 40
p. 49.
Motion Picture Herald
21 Sep 40
p. 26.
New York Times
25 Oct 40
p. 25.
Variety
25 Sep 40
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dir of addl footage
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog of addl footage
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 September 1940
Premiere Information:
Fort Worth and Dallas premieres: 18 September 1940
Production Date:
began late November 1939
addl footage February 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Samuel Goldwyn
Copyright Date:
7 October 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9962
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
98 or 100
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
5959
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Cole Harden, a wandering cowhand, is brought before Judge Roy Bean on the charge of stealing a horse, a certain death penalty in Bean's court, but Cole cleverly talks himself out of his predicament by pretending to know the idol of Bean's life, British actress Lily Langtry, known as "the Jersey Lily." Bean reverses Cole's death sentence, and the cowboy sets out for California. Along the way, he meets homesteader Caliphet Mathews and his daughter Jane-Ellen and becomes involved in the homesteaders' struggle against the cattle ranchers. This puts him in direct conflict with Bean, who is the law behind the ranchers. When Cole succeeds in convincing the judge to remove the cattle from the homesteaders' land in return for a lock of Lily's hair, it seems that peace will return to the valley. Not to be defeated, the judge and his gang set fire to the homesteaders' fields and trample Mathews to death when he attempts to save his house. Embittered, Jane vows to remain, and Cole rides to Ft. Davis to swear out a warrant on the judge for murder. Despite his status as a wanted murderer, the judge insists on riding to Ft. Davis to see Lily perform. As the lights in the opera house dim, Cole comes for the judge, and the last thing that Bean sees before he dies is his beloved Lily. His job accomplished, Cole returns to Jane and the ... +


Cole Harden, a wandering cowhand, is brought before Judge Roy Bean on the charge of stealing a horse, a certain death penalty in Bean's court, but Cole cleverly talks himself out of his predicament by pretending to know the idol of Bean's life, British actress Lily Langtry, known as "the Jersey Lily." Bean reverses Cole's death sentence, and the cowboy sets out for California. Along the way, he meets homesteader Caliphet Mathews and his daughter Jane-Ellen and becomes involved in the homesteaders' struggle against the cattle ranchers. This puts him in direct conflict with Bean, who is the law behind the ranchers. When Cole succeeds in convincing the judge to remove the cattle from the homesteaders' land in return for a lock of Lily's hair, it seems that peace will return to the valley. Not to be defeated, the judge and his gang set fire to the homesteaders' fields and trample Mathews to death when he attempts to save his house. Embittered, Jane vows to remain, and Cole rides to Ft. Davis to swear out a warrant on the judge for murder. Despite his status as a wanted murderer, the judge insists on riding to Ft. Davis to see Lily perform. As the lights in the opera house dim, Cole comes for the judge, and the last thing that Bean sees before he dies is his beloved Lily. His job accomplished, Cole returns to Jane and the land. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.