Paul Newman plays the title role in John Huston's surreal, revisionist western as the infamous Texas hanging judge. Upon arriving in the tiny West Texas town of Vinegaroon, Roy Bean draws a moustache on a wanted poster of himself, marches into a saloon, and declares his presence. He is immediately robbed, beaten within an inch of his life, tied to a horse and dragged out into the prairie, then left to die. Rescued by a young Mexican girl, Maria Elena (Victoria Principal), Roy Bean heads back into town and murders everyone in the local saloon, declaring that he'll kill anyone of the same sort who turns up. He also sets himself up as the sole arbiter of law and order and renames the town Langtry, in honor of the legendary actress Lily Langtry (Ava Gardner). The community prospers as Judge Bean dispenses his own brand of frontier justice upon strangers passing by, robbing or killing anyone who tries to make their way through the town. But when Maria dies, Bean's old associates begin to turn on him, one at a time (in response to his constant harping on their wives, many of whom were former prostitutes) and Bean is forced to leave. Years later, Bean rides back into town, called back to the place to save his daughter from trouble - and finds that the community has been taken over by a shady character called Frank Gass (Roddy McDowall) - a circumstance that requires Bean to dispense his own unique brand of justice once again. Stacy Keach lends a neat comic turn to the film as Bad Bob, an albino gunslinger whose dining habits consist of chowing down on raw onion, drinking hot coffee from a pot, and demanding that an entire horse be cooked for his supper. John Milius (Red Dawn) scripted.
~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide