The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean1972

The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean Photos

Movie Info

Paul Newman plays the title role in John Huston's surreal, revisionist western as the infamous Texas hanging judge. Upon arriving in the tiny West Texas town of Vinegaroon, Roy Bean draws a moustache on a wanted poster of himself, marches into a saloon, and declares his presence. He is immediately robbed, beaten within an inch of his life, tied to a horse and dragged out into the prairie, then left to die. Rescued by a young Mexican girl, Maria Elena (Victoria Principal), Roy Bean heads back into town and murders everyone in the local saloon, declaring that he'll kill anyone of the same sort who turns up. He also sets himself up as the sole arbiter of law and order and renames the town Langtry, in honor of the legendary actress Lily Langtry (Ava Gardner). The community prospers as Judge Bean dispenses his own brand of frontier justice upon strangers passing by, robbing or killing anyone who tries to make their way through the town. But when Maria dies, Bean's old associates begin to turn on him, one at a time (in response to his constant harping on their wives, many of whom were former prostitutes) and Bean is forced to leave. Years later, Bean rides back into town, called back to the place to save his daughter from trouble - and finds that the community has been taken over by a shady character called Frank Gass (Roddy McDowall) - a circumstance that requires Bean to dispense his own unique brand of justice once again. Stacy Keach lends a neat comic turn to the film as Bad Bob, an albino gunslinger whose dining habits consist of chowing down on raw onion, drinking hot coffee from a pot, and demanding that an entire horse be cooked for his supper. John Milius (Red Dawn) scripted.

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Paul Newman
as Judge Roy Bean
Roddy McDowall
as Frank Gass
Ava Gardner
as Lillie Langtry
Tab Hunter
as Sam Dodd
John Huston
as Grizzly Adams
Stacy Keach
as Bad Bob
Anthony Perkins
as Rev. LaSalle
Victoria Principal
as Marie Elena
Ned Beatty
as Tector Crites
Jim Burk
as Bart Jackson
Matt Clark
as Nick the Grub
Steve Kanaly
as Whorehouse Lucky Jim
Bill McKinney
as Fermel Parlee
Francesca Jarvis
as Mrs. Jackson
Karen Carr
as Mrs. Grubb
Dolores Clark
as Mrs. Whorehouse Jim
Rebecca Lee Meza
as Mrs. Parlee
Neil Summers
as Snake River Rufus Krile
Howard Morton
as Photographer
Billy Pearson
as Miner/Station Master
Dean Casper
as Desk Clerk
Don Starr
as Opera House Manager
Alfred G. Bosnos
as Opera House Clerk
John Bear Hudkins
as Man at Stage Door
Michael Sarrazin
as Rose's Husband
Frank Soto
as Mexican Leader
Roy Jenson
as outlaw
Gary Combs
as Outlaw
Fred Krone
as Outlaw
Dean Smith
as Outlaw
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Critic Reviews for The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (1)

The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean sets out to be an elegy to the passing of the Old West, and ends up being an elegy to the passing of bad manners.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

It's all very movie-movie, with even that happy ending we schmaltz-lovers love so well.

June 11, 2020 | Full Review…

Above all, a self-assured Paul Newman stands out, offering a whole recital full of very funny and very emotional moments. [Full Review in Spanish]

April 16, 2020 | Full Review…

This ragged film never amounts to much, but it's at least consistent in its eccentricities.

July 29, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Milius' screenplay is acridly flavorful, Huston gives it a mellow reading

September 25, 2009 | Full Review…

Newman and bear: Good. Movie: Bad. It's a toss up, but I vote for hanging.

January 2, 2005 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean


John Huston and Paul Newman, et al, team-up to relate the story about Texas' infamous hanging judge. Well, that's the idea. What we get instead is sort of a barroom myth ala Paul Bunyan, that leans into cuddly sentimentality a shade too much. Despite the heavy hitters, this one is forgettable.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


At the start of "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean," the title character(Paul Newman) is not yet a member of the legal profession. Quite the opposite, in fact, as he is an outlaw in the badlands west of the Pecos, intent on bragging, drinking and whoring but is instead savagely beaten and left for dead. However, Marie Elena(Victoria Principal) takes pity on him, nurses him back to health and gives him a gun. After Bean gets his revenge on all concerned, Reverend LaSalle(Anthony Perkins) comes along to give some advice and help bury the bodies. Bean decides to take up being the law of the land with help from some incompetent criminals who make betters marshals. Written by John Milius, directed by John Huston and performed by an eclectic cast(wait until you see Stacy Keach), "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" is a mischievous and irreverent western. By going a different route, the movie gets quite a lot right in how the west was won, going from lawlessness to legal brutality to respectability, as Judge Roy Bean helps make Texas safe for normal people. At the same time, the movie gives a very good idea about the kind of people who moved west to make a new life for themselves, many of them outcasts.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Really entertaining film and it owes a lot to what I think is one of Paul Newman's best performances. I enjoyed the film and it's funny watching this and realizing what a pot head John Huston was. The film looks gorgeous and it's both hilarious and sad at the same time. I don't know why, but the ending got to me even though the whole idea is bat shit crazy. Great cast.

Tim Sigur
Tim Sigur

Super Reviewer

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