LAWMAN, dispensing lead from 1971, brought British director Michael Winner across the Atlantic and dropped his in-your-face style into our porridge for 27 years, specializing in unsubtle violence (including seven Charles Bronson films). Great cast: Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Lee J. Cobb, Robert Duvall, Sheree North, J.D. Cannon, Albert Salmi, Joseph Wiseman, Richard Jordan, John McGiver, Ralph Waite, John Beck, Walter Brooke, Robert Emhardt, Charles Tyner, John Hillerman. It’s only their professionalism—and the desire to get paid—that kept their eyes open for this 99 minutes of heaviness and gloom as a merciless marshal cleans up a lawless, worth-free sinkhole.
Credit where due, North and Cannon share the best acting passage in the film. Winner’s loser western is plagued, not just by overall been-there tread but by his insistence on that awful telephoto zoom nonsense that hallmarked the era. It found its way to 42nd place that year, grossing a decent $8,200,000. Best thing here was the poster art. First of a gritty back-to-back Southwest trio for Burt, followed by Valdez Is Coming and the quite good Ulzana’s Raid. Catch that one instead.