Producer Sam Goldwyn invests his uncommonly acute sense of taste and showmanship in the big-budget period film The Westerner. The title character, played by Gary Cooper, is a drifter who is accused of stealing a horse. He is brought before… More Producer Sam Goldwyn invests his uncommonly acute sense of taste and showmanship in the big-budget period film The Westerner. The title character, played by Gary Cooper, is a drifter who is accused of stealing a horse. He is brought before "The Only Law West of the Pecos": that redoubtable rapscallion Judge Roy Bean, played by Walter Brennan (who won the third of his Oscars for this performance). Cooper saves himself from hanging by pretending that he's intimately acquainted with actress Lily Langtry, the "Jersey Lily" whom Bean worships from afar. Managing to escape Bean's henchmen, Coop takes shelter at the home of homesteader Fred Stone. Falling love with Stone's daughter Doris Davenport, the westerner casts his lot with the homesteaders against Bean and his mob.When Stone is murdered, Cooper goes gunning for Bean, who has scurried off to Fort Davis to attend a stage performance by Lily Langtry. The film's climax has been imitated and parodied so often that it serves no purpose to go into detail here: let's just say that it still plays as well today as it did in 1940. Director William Wyler, who'd cut his teeth on low-budget westerns, brings an austerity and authenticity to The Westerner that is often lacking in Hollywood productions. Our favorite sequence is a prolonged fistfight, deliberately staged as clumsily as any real-life bout; Wyler would repeat this sequence in his 1958 western epic The Big Country. Screenwriters Jo Swerling and Niven Busch adapted The Westerner from a story by famed Wyatt Earp chronicler Stuart N. Lake; and, though credited by Dmitri Tiomkin, the musical score is actually the handiwork of Alfred Newman.