Go back
Law of the Lawless
movies, Western

1964 | 4:3 | Color | Quality: Excellent

Dale Robertson

Yvonne De Carlo

William Bendix


Clem Rogers (Dale Robertson) is a former gunslinger turned judge who is now known as "the Hanging Judge" because he sends all gunfighters that come before him to hang. He is trying to rid the world of gunfighters because one killed his father long ago. Rogers has a list of old enemies as long as his arm, and its not irregular for him to get ambushed and have to defend himself. Now he has come to Stone Junction, Kansas in 1889 to preside over the murder trial of scumbag Pete Stone (John Agar), who is the son of the most powerful man in Kansas, "Big Tom" Stone (Barton MacLane). Big Tom has no intention of letting his boy hang, and has brought in not only undefeated slick lawyer Rand Macdonald (Kent Taylor), but also hired notorious gunman Joe Rile (Bruce Cabot), the man who killed Rogers' father, to do the judge in regardless of the trial's outcome. Big Tom also, in an effort to discredit Judge Rogers, has his henchmen leave the barely conscious, beaten and half-dressed saloon girl Ellie Irish (Yvonne De Carlo) in his hotel room. Even that is not the end of Big Tom's tricks, as on the day of the trial the town slowly fills with strangers, all in black and all hired to fill the courtroom. Stone tells Rogers that everyone in the courtroom is related to someone Rogers has hanged and they are there to sit in judgment of HIM.

This was the first of A.C. Lyles thirteen "Geezer Westerns" done for Paramount from late 1963-late 1967. A former publicist for the studio, Lyles knew many of Hollywood's greatest stars, and got his start as a film producer after James Cagney agreed to direct 1957's "Short Cut to Hell." In 1963, Lyles began a series of cheaply made westerns generally shot in 10-14 days, often back to back then issued months apart, with great veteran actors from decades past in the lead roles. "Law of the Lawless" was the first of these films and was successful enough to spawn a dozen more. But this film in particular is different from Lyles other offerings and is way more than simply a throwback western. On the surface we see the "old timers" at work, with old style colorful sets and costumes, and we are fooled into thinking this will be a nostalgic trip back to the style of the 50s. However, we eventually see that this is part of the point of the film, that the way justice is carried in the West has changed, and the people must change with it: Our 50s heroes cannot go around blasting their way out of problems any longer without facing the dire consequences. We are also clued in that this is not your standard "clean" western at around the 40 minute mark when Robertson is ambushed by a group of thugs. This sequence is extremely violent and graphic for the type of film we think we are seeing: someone is shot in the face point blank, blood squibs are bursting when people are shot, someone's throat is cut with a scythe, poor Yvonne De Carlo is violently slapped around and stripped. Later we are exposed to the never-seen aftermath of the idealized western fantasy - the widows and orphans of those throwaway characters so often killed, and the impact it's taken on those left behind. Even the ending is most unexpected, but unlike far too many movies who attempt it, it actually works with the theme of the film here.

Click on Image to Expand
Go back


  • $1.99 for first DVD and .50 cents for each additional


Hollywood Scrapheap is dedicated to providing high quality dvd copies of classic and neglected films for both collectors and fans. I have extensive experience in the entertainment industry and know how much work went into these films - they deserve to be seen in better quality than crappy VHS or TV rips! I only sell copies that I myself would watch. All films are given quality custom menus and packaging along with disk art - in short, the loving attention they deserve!