The Westerner - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Westerner Reviews

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June 11, 2017
One of the best westerns ever made, Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, and Doris Davenport were all wonderful. I can't put my finger on how the old movies have something the new one don't. Maybe an innocence.
½ October 28, 2015
Rub of the brush

Cole Harden is a man arrested by the locals for stealing a horse and presented to the judge...the judge happens to be a star crazed bar tender. The bar tender finds him guilty and sentences Cole to a hanging. Cole convinces the bar tender that he has a lock of a starlet's hair that the bar tender has a crush on. The bar tender agrees to join him on an adventure to a neighboring town to get the lock of hair.

"If I had to do the dishes I'd give up eating."

William Wyler, director of Ben-Hur, Roman Holiday, The Collector, The Big Country, Wuthering Heights (1939), The Good Fairy, and The Little Foxes, delivers Westerners. The storyline for this picture is very fun and well written. The dialogue is excellent as are the character interactions. The cast includes Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Chill Wills, and Charles Halton.

"Ownership of the horse is clearly established."

This was recently on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and I had to DVR it since it starred Gary Cooper. He was very coy and entertaining in this film. His gestures were funny as were his interactions with the bar tender. I recommend this for fans of western classics.

"I thought you were a ghost."

Grade: B+/A- (8.75)
April 10, 2015
Classic westerner with great acting based on a true story, with many funny scenes too. One of the best western films I've ever seen and now one of my faves. Essential viewing if you like westerns.
January 30, 2015
It's "Judge" Roy Bean and his bloodthirsty cattlemen against the hard-working homesteaders in post-Civil War Texas, with drifting 'saddle bum' Gary Cooper caught between the warring sides. William Wyler's cloudy, dusty, majestic western suffers a bit from an unresolved unhappiness at its core. Cooper, barely twitching a facial muscle, is supposed to be a crafty, quick-thinking sonuvabitch, but Cooper just doesn't exude that type of personality; he's rugged when he needs to be, and stalwart with the one eligible woman in town--'The Westerner', low on the special effects list still delivers such a satisfying punch, with a story that is complicated by character-driven plot turns, that the overall effect is one of real history. Based on the actual existence of at least one character Judge Roy Ben, the movie weaves together a fabric of fiction and history at once based on the myth of the West, while countering it to allow the viewer into a tale that fulfills every expectation!!
February 24, 2014
Solid western from director William Wyler. Though colorful Judge Roy Bean is the famous historical figure of the story, played by the great Walter Brennan, the story is more about drifter Gary Cooper who comes to town to oppose Bean's policy against homesteaders. The script and acting are terrific, but I have to say that I was most struck by the gorgeous black & white photography by the brilliant Gregg Toland, who'd the following year go on the shoot Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane". A must see for western, Cooper, Brennan or Toland fans!
February 19, 2014
"Gary Cooper gives a commanding performance in William Wyler's popular 1940 Western, which features Walter Brennan in an Oscar-winning turn"
September 16, 2013
This is the Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan show, both work well together as the corrupt judge and his tamer. There's nothing spectacular in terms of the 'western', nor is the interaction intense, but there's plenty of character and a fine final ten minutes.
April 3, 2013
Cooper was good but it should have been more gritty. The scenery was also poor given the wealth of options.
April 2, 2013
No, I never met her. I never met the sun, I never shook hands with the moon, and I've never been introduced to no clouds.
March 13, 2013
I've never been a big Gary Cooper fan. Seems to always be a lot of mela-drama in a Gary Cooper western before it gets to the good stuff, the fightin' and the shootin'.
½ January 28, 2013
A playful western film with Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan. It is an earlier take on Judge Roy Bean who embodied the corrupt justice system in underdeveloped parts of the western expansion in the 19th century.

The film opens up with the conflict between cattlemen and home settlers already in full swing. The cattlemen had been working in the land and freely riding their cattle through the open terrain. The home settlers arrived in the area and try to raise their own crops to make their own living. The cattlemen resent the settlement of the newcomers because they interrupt their path while the home settlers resent the cattlemen who carelessly trample their crops.

In the opening sequence there is a shootout between the cattlemen and the home settlers. The cattlemen take one of the field workers of the home settlers to the town to be tried by Judge Roy Bean for killing one of their cattle. Immediately we learn of the corruption of Judge Roy Bean's methods and we also learn that his saloon turns into the courtroom when he wishes.

Gary Cooper plays a character that is caught with a stolen horse when he walks into the saloon. Through luck, the salesman of the stolen horse walks into the saloon and Cooper is released conditionally of his guilt. Now Cooper and Brennan develop a friendship because prior to his fortuitous encounter with the salesman, Cooper reveals his charismatic skills on Judge Roy. Cooper makes Judge Roy believe that he has met the judge's stage idol Lily Langtry and that she gave him a lock of hair. During Cooper's "trial" he also met Jane-Ellen who is a home settler making her voice heard to Judge Roy. Jane Ellen becomes the love interest of Cooper's character and leads to Cooper's attempt to resolve the conflict between the cattlemen and the land settlers.

In the film Cooper and all the actors engage in comical scenes. There is humor in many of the scenes. The film shifts from the serious conflict to the playful interactions in between the conflicts. I found it a fun, playful film, but the gullibility factor of a character like Judge Roy Bean was beyond credible. Cooper and Brennan deliver genuine comical characterizations that can keep the viewer entertained. As a humorous take on the Western genre, it is a successful film. But the stretching factor of the humor, did not allow me to take the film too seriously. The cinematography was of high quality with the black/white contrasts and outdoor scenes. Memorable scenes included Cooper waking up in bed with Brennan, a fist fight, a fire sequence and the finale in a theater. I enjoyed it, but unless I am missing some context surrounding the film, it is simply an entertaining film for fans of Wyler the director, Cooper and Brennan.
March 18, 2012
If you like Walter Brennan, Gary Cooper, westerns or great "bromance" acting, you should check out "The Westerner." Cooper is supposed to be the star, but Brennan almost walks away with the movie with his engaging portrayal of legendary hanging judge Roy Bean. If you're only familiar with Brennan from his portrayal of comic relief cowpokes in his later films, and have not seen his earlier, grittier performances, then you may be surprised to learn that he is one of only 2 men (the other is Jack Nicholson) to win best actor Oscars 3 times--all for Best Supporting Actor, including for "The Westerner." Cooper is no slouch either, with his character matching Roy Bean's domineering, cagey, and threatening manner with a quiet, strong caginess of his own, playing on the old judge's infatuation with actress Lily Langtree. There's some silly stuff about a range war and a romance, but the high points of this movie are the scenes between Brennan and Cooper. They way they play off of each other brings to mind such other screen dangerous "bromances" as those between Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier ("In the Heat of the Night") and Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains ("Casablanca")--the type in which you really like the other guy, even though he may have you locked up or killed (as opposed to the more obvious Butch & Sundance or Riggs & Murtagh type buddy bromances). Note: in "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean," one of my favorite actors (Paul Newman) plays the lead role in a movie by one of my favorite directors (John Huston). If you're a big Newman fan, you may want not want to watch both movies--you'll risk being forever haunted by the realization that Brennan's portrayal is far superior; just remind yourself that Brennan, too, had his clunkers.
March 11, 2012
Low-key western in which Gary Cooper wanders into a town in the country, only to be arrested for crop stealing. This is just after a horse murderer has been hanged under the alleged sheriff?s command (Walter Brennan). Cooper is now under investigation as being an associate of these horse murderers, who were also crop stealers, but the suspicion turns when many members of the community question Brennan?s authority and motives. Not the greatest western told, but good enough, especially because of the lively performance by Brennan, which netted him a third Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He is good fun. I wish the film was a little more memorable, though.
Super Reviewer
November 6, 2011
This is some great stuff! I really enjoyed it. And it was released in 1940? Man, has this movie aged well or what? It really holds up today.
May 10, 2011
Fantastic western from Wyler. Mostly an interior film with top-notch photography by Toland. Brennen is a tour-de-force but it is Coop that steals the show. His understated performance of the manipulative Cole ties all the elements of the film together. Last scene ruins everything at the end.
½ April 16, 2011
The script is a bit of a mess, but it's beautifully shot by Greg Toland and ultimately entertaining.
Super Reviewer
½ January 25, 2011
Ordinary western especially coming from Wyler. Walter Brennan won an Oscar for this?
½ December 6, 2010
This is a quirky movie. The relationship between Cooper and Brennan is really interesting, but the plot's up and down tone comes off as a little inconsistent. It's certainly not one expects from a '40s western, and that's good.
Super Reviewer
September 21, 2010
I saw this on TV because I was bored. I hate westerns, and this movie didn't grab my interest, so I didn't watch the whole thing. From what I saw it didn't look like a great movie.
½ August 25, 2010
coop ain't so bad... a little history lesson about texas too
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