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Lawman (1971)

Image courtesy : Rotten Tomatoes.

Lawman is a 1971 American revisionist Western film that takes viewers on a thrilling journey through the rugged landscapes of the Wild West. Produced and directed by Michael Winner, the film features an all-star cast including Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Lee J. Cobb, and Robert Duvall. With its intense storyline and captivating performances, Lawman offers a fresh take on the classic Western genre.

The film opens with a group of drunken cowhands from the town of Sabbath wreaking havoc in the peaceful town of Bannock. Tragically, an innocent old man is accidentally shot and killed during the chaos. This senseless act of violence sets the stage for the arrival of Jared Maddox, Bannock’s determined marshal. Maddox, played by Burt Lancaster, sets out on a mission to bring the shooters to justice.

He rides into Sabbath with the body of Marc Corman, one of the men responsible for the killing. Armed with warrants for the remaining five culprits, Maddox confronts Sabbath’s sheriff, Cotton Ryan, played by Robert Ryan. However, Maddox soon discovers that the five men he seeks are under the protection of Vincent Bronson, a wealthy cattle rancher who practically owns Sabbath. Undeterred by the power and influence of Bronson, Maddox demands that the five surrender to him within 24 hours.

He makes it clear that he will not hesitate to use force if necessary. Sheriff Ryan, fully aware of Bronson’s hold on the town, warns Maddox about the formidable obstacles he will face. Bronson’s foreman, Harv Stenbaugh, played by Robert Duvall, is particularly keen on eliminating Maddox.

Despite the warnings and threats, Maddox remains resolute in his pursuit of justice. As tensions rise, Maddox’s unwavering determination clashes with the complex dynamics of power and loyalty in Sabbath. Bronson, initially unaware of the killing in Bannock, attempts to negotiate with Maddox, offering him compensation in the form of cash. However, Maddox stands firm, refusing to be bought.

The stage is set for a gripping showdown between Maddox and Bronson’s men. The film builds up to a dramatic gunfight in the town square of Sabbath, where the lines between right and wrong blur. Maddox, who has always condemned those who shoot from behind, finds himself betraying his own principles in the heat of the moment. Lawman explores the themes of justice, morality, and the price of power in a lawless land.

The film challenges traditional notions of heroism and presents a nuanced portrayal of its characters. Burt Lancaster delivers a compelling performance as the conflicted marshal, torn between his duty and his personal code of ethics. Michael Winner’s direction brings the Wild West to life, capturing the rugged beauty of the landscapes and infusing the film with a sense of authenticity. The cinematography and action sequences add to the film’s intensity, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats throughout. 

Lawman is a gripping and thought-provoking Western film that delves into the complexities of justice and betrayal. With its stellar cast, powerful performances, and captivating storyline, the film offers a fresh perspective on the genre.Crapulous wranglers from the city of Sabbath are shooting up the western city of Bannock. An old man is accidentally shot dead.

Jared Maddox is Bannock’s marshal. On the trail of the shooters he rides into the city of Sabbath with the body of Marc Corman. Corman and five others were involved in the reckless payoff and Maddox has clearances for them. Maddox calls on Sabbath’s sheriff, Cotton Ryan. He demands that the five rendition to him within 24 hours. Ryan warns Maddox that the five work for Vincent Bronson, a fat cattle horsewoman who literally owns Sabbath.

Maddox isn’t alarmed and warns Ryan he’ll clearly kill these five men if they don’t surrender. Ryan goes to Bronson’s estate to inform him of Marshal Maddox’s appearance in Sabbath. Bronson is ignorant of the payoff in Bannock and offers cash as compensation. The Sheriff explains that Maddox can not be bought. Bronson’s chief, Harv Stenbaugh, wants Maddox killed. Bronson insists on concession. When that falls through, his men resolve to kill the marshal, an trouble which leads to a dramatic gun fight in the Sabbath city forecourt.

Lawman is a must-watch for fans of Westerns and those seeking a riveting tale set in the untamed frontier of the Wild West.

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