Warlock (1959)

Passed   |    |  Drama, Western


Warlock (1959) Poster

A famous gunman becomes the marshal of Warlock to end a gang's rampages, but is met with some opposition by a former gang member turned deputy sheriff who wants to follow only legal methods.


7.2/10
5,308

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15 June 2000 | Nazi_Fighter_David
9
| A pretty exciting law and order Star Western...
The Colt revolver was a tool and the more you study the men who used it at a high professional level the more it becomes obvious that they were also tools, sometimes unwittingly, sometimes (according to Western films) quite the opposite... Necessary tools, necessary men in a very compressed package of American history... They have their brief moment on the stage and then it's time to take their leave, preferably with their boots on, knowing, or not knowing that they've done the job that history actually required, but that history, in fact, won't thank them for it...

Fonda—a quiet dominant personality in Westerns—puts this over perfectly in Edward Dmytryk's 'Warlock,' unpretentious Western… Here Fonda is a professional hired gun brought in specially, and most temporarily, one always feels, to calm down a town plagued by cowboys, some of them with outlaw affiliations...

Every word he says ('I'm a simple man, handy with Colts'), every calculated ploy, shows that he's marvelously clear-eyed about his situation—that today he's wanted, that tomorrow he won't be—because he's an old professional and it's all happened before...

Spruce as spry as ever, Fonda is Clay Blaidsdell, a legendary gunfighter, the ideal professional gunman with great expectations... He is hired, temporarily, by the citizens of Warlock to clean up their town from the outlaws... The movie focuses on his rise when he succeeds in removing the bad guys in a spectacular confrontation, and his fall when he is forced to face his best friend in a showdown...

Fonda brings with him his hero-worshiping right hand and conscience, the ex-killer Tom Morgan (Quinn), who challenges his one-man rule, one vindictive old girlfriend and one loving new flame... When the pair defeats the San Pedro gang, one of its members, Johnny Gannon (Widmark), stays behind and volunteers to become Blaisdell's deputy...

As an uneasy peace settles onto Warlock, the relationship between Blaisdell and Morgan deteriorates when the marshal finds romance with a local girl, Jessie Marlow (Dolores Michaels). Gannon, meanwhile, becomes involved with Lily Dollar (Dorothy Malone), who at one time had been Morgan's mistress and now hates both Blaisdell and him for killing a man she had hoped to marry...

Blond for the only time in his career, Quinn – curious and different as the complex, clubfooted gambler-gunman whose relationship with Clay, leans rather strongly toward homosexuality – made Dmytryk's multi-plotted film somewhat daring for its time... Its complicated story line, working at various levels, and its shadowy psychological innuendos, turned off critics and audiences alike, and from several corners came concern that Dmytryk had carried the 'new convention' Western too far too fast... Nevertheless "Warlock" remains a typical law and order Star Western, well written, pretty exciting, and entirely in the classic mold...

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