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Having created an instant classic the previous year with their superlative production of Wuthering Heights, producer Samuel Goldwyn, director William Wyler, and cinematographer Gregg Toland reunited for this classic Western from 1940, which earned Walter Brennan his record-setting third Academy Award. Gary Cooper reportedly hesitated to take his role, knowing that Brennan would likely steal the show with his splendid portrayal of "hanging" lawman Judge Roy Bean, but Wyler persisted and Cooper signed on as the drifter who faces Judge Bean under the false accusation of stealing a horse. Cooper smooth-talks his way out of his hanging by claiming to be a close friend of stage star Lily Langtry, with whom the judge is unabashedly smitten, but tensions rise when Cooper comes to the defense of a group of struggling homesteaders that Brennan is trying to drive away. This leads, of course, to a classic showdown in true Western tradition, and under Wyler's able direction The Westerner takes its place among the finest examples of the genre. And while Brennan does indeed steal the show, Cooper needn't have worried--he's every bit the hero in a battle with one of the silver screen's most memorable villains.

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MG208394 Westerner VHS (1940/Gary Cooper) $9.99