Blaise Starrett is a rancher at odds with homesteaders when outlaws hold up the small town. The outlaws are held in check only by their notorious leader, but he is diagnosed with a fatal wound and the town is a powder keg waiting to blow.
Marshal Wyatt Earp kills a couple of men of the Clanton gang in a fight. In revenge, Clanton's thugs kill the Marshal's brother. Thus, Wyatt starts to chase the killers together with his friend Doc Holliday.
While passing through the town of Bannock, a bunch of drunken, trail-weary 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. Maddox, however, will not compromise even though small ranchers like Vern Adams are not in a position to desert their responsibilities for a long and protracted trial. Sabbath's marshal, Cotton Ryan, is an aging lawman whose tough reputation rests on a single incident that occurred years before. Ryan admits to being only a shadow of what he once was and incapable of stopping Maddox. Maddox confides to Ryan that Bannock's judicial system is weak and corrupt, and while he's doubtful that anyone he brings back will suffer more than the ...Written by
During the opening scene when Bronson's rowdies tear up the town of Bannock, in two views of the local hotel, the town's name is spelled Bannock. Later, when Sheriff Maddox checks into the hotel in Sabbath, he signs in as a resident of Bannach. See more »
Here is another great American Western that slipped under my radar.
Where to start, Dircted by Michael Winner, starring Burt Lancaster in whats got to be the best Western I've seen him in so far, with Robert Ryan, Lee J. Cobb, Robert Duval, Albert Salmi, Ralph Waite, JD Cannon, John McGiver, John Hillerman, Wilford Brimley and Sheree North in whats gotta be the biggest & best role I've seen her in. Plus a great supporting cast of all good actors in realistic parts.
This is sort of a psychological/action Western hybrid with an emphasis on very good action, so its got a lot of dialog but its great dialog that sounds true with a good ear for Western slang.
A guy named Ray Moyer did the set design, and this is another standout of this film, a great job, he is as good as Carlo Simi, I couldn't believe how much detail was crammed into this film. Everything looks spot on, the town set is fantastic, the ranch's are great, interiors highly detailed. Roberto Silva & Herb Westbrook did the Art direction and they deserve mention too.
There is a whore house set thats great it features a crippled gambler/pimp who hobbles about on crutches who is a past friend of Maddox, he has this skull clock sitting on his card table that is a nice touch. All the whores are real looking women not caricatured or dressed overly flashy.
The landscape & town sets were all shot in Durango, Mexico and some of the buttes featured were just beautiful, don't remember seeing these locations before but the rock in the outcrops look similar to those seen in the Magnificent Seven.
The story basically revolves around Bannock Marshall Jared Maddox (Lancaster) a "mankiller" he has the nickname "The Widowmaker". Maddox is after a bunch of drovers who shot up his town during a drunken spree killing an old man. The drovers work for big time cattleman Vincent Bronson (Cobb) near the town of Sabbath, New Mexico.
Maddox has a reputation for being quick on the draw, and always getting his man, we first see him riding into Sabbath with a corpse. He ties up at the Sabbath Marshall Cotton Ryan's (Ryan) office and he tells Ryan what happened and who he's after. Ryan tells him that the men all work for Bronson, and that he'll ride out to the ranch & tell them that Maddox wants to bring them back for trial to Bannock. Bronson's men decide to tough it out and face Maddox.
This film even has a love interest thats handled the just the way it should be in that it doesn't detract from or slow down the narrative one iota.
The score is nothing that sticks in head and pretty forgettable, its not an Spaghetti Western , no picaresque characters or humor, but it does have some SW influenced action as do a lot of the post Leone & Peckinpah films of the 70's.
The ending is worth the price of the DVD which I just ordered. Michael Winner best film, IMO.
Check it out you wont go wrong.
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