22 March 2008 | bkoganbing
Law West Of The Pecos
Ever since Walter Brennan played Judge Roy Bean in The Westerner, the judge has held a peculiar fascination for the western fan. As Brennan did him, he wasn't exactly a hero, but it got Brennan his third Academy Award.
For modern filmgoers, Paul Newman is the name they recognize from the John Huston classic western. A whole lot more of what went into Bean's psychological makeup is found in this western.
The judge got to be the central character of this 30 minute television western in 1956 and Edgar Buchanan played him. All though Buchanan has played out and out villains on the big screen, here we see him as more like folksy Uncle Joe Carson from Petticoat Junction. He didn't shy away from gunplay though. Many times he held court right on the open range shooting it out with outlaws.
I'm reminded of Henry Fonda's line in his western Firecreek. 'When you find no law in a place you make your own'. It seems to be the governing philosophy of the Bean character. This western series left no doubt that the choice was Bean or anarchy.
The Judge's crushing out on Lily Langtry is barely mentioned in this series. We do know the town of Vinegarroon, Texas was renamed Langtry as per one of the Judge's rulings. Which it is down to this day.
Though it lasted only a season, Judge Roy Bean seemed to be in syndication forever through the sixties. Like so many shows from my childhood, I wish we could see it again.