Lawman ★★★★

Lawman is not a particularly celebrated western nor is it that clever. Full of genre clichés and with a rather clumsy script it nevertheless has a distinguished cast. Burt Lancaster is the titular lawman, Jared Maddox, an uncompromising character who sees the law as the ultimate tamer of the west, Robert Ryan, as a burned out fellow lawman, Lee J. Cobb as a cattle baron used to paying off the law when it suits him and Joseph Wiseman as a saloon owner with a chequered history. All these characters are clichéd too and in the hands of director Michael Winner the film resorts to blood spurting violence and incorporates everything you can think of from the western genre. And yet it's great fun and Lancaster is superb as the dark (note the ever present use of shadow in case you don't get that he's a dark character!!!) 'killer of men'. In the hands of a more subtle director and a better screenplay this would have been up there with the great westerns of the 70s, but hey ho just go with it and have a ball.