Action / Romance / Western


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June 26, 2014 at 11:15 PM



Henry Fonda as Clay Blaisedell
Anthony Quinn as Tom Morgan
DeForest Kelley as Curley Burne
L.Q. Jones as Fen Jiggs
869.55 MB
23.976 fps
2hr 2 min
P/S 2 / 11

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by pzanardo ([email protected]) 9 / 10

Perhaps the best psychological western ever made

I consider "Warlock" the best psychological western ever made. The main purpose of the movie is to draw a thorough inner design of the characters; nonetheless there is (happily) plenty of action and gun-fights, with no lowering of strain or moments of bore. As a matter of fact, important sides of the psychology of the male characters are represented through their attitude in violent action.

Clay (Henry Fonda) is a cool-headed gunslinger who, somewhat hypocritically, deludes himself to be fair since he kills people following "the rules". And it's a bit disappointing to see that people like and trust him mainly because he is handsome and well-mannered. However, Clay doesn't like violence and has noble sides, as shown when he stops a lynching.

Morgan (Anthony Quinn) is more honest in his self- judgment: he knows to be an assassin, who solves any possible problem caused by other people by simply killing them. There is a single important thing in his life, which he is even too ready to die for: his friendship-love toward Clay. Johnny (Richard Widmark) is the repented outlaw who has had the strength to quit a life of crime. He is naturally fair and non-violent, yet he knows when it's necessary to draw the six-shooter, for his own honor and moral code, and to protect innocent people. McQuown (Tom Drake) is just a loathsome, treacherous coward, who never face a duel without an accomplice ready to shoot his opponent in the back.

Of course, the main theme of the movie is Morgan's morbid affection for Clay. This totally absorbing love is masterly represented in the movie, in a crescendo of intensity, finally showing Morgan close to sheer madness. Reasonably enough, most critics have inferred a homosexual love in the relationship between Morgan and Clay. I'm not much Freudian and I have no tendency to find sex everywhere. I think that the director Dmytryk has made a deliberately exasperated, unconventional representation of the manly friendship, a classical motive in western movies. Here we have two adventurers, two gunslingers who deeply understand each other's feelings. Women (saloon-girls) are good for fun, and that's all: a real friendship is something completely different, extraneous to the feminine mentality. And deep friendship can be more jealous than love. In fact, Morgan begins to suffer when he realizes that Clay has found a true love, a coming spouse in Jessie (Dolores Michaels): he's not just infatuated by some meaningless, cheap girl. Morgan's natural, psychologically exact reaction can only be a brutal interference.

The preceding theme of the movie is really so interesting that one could miss to notice how beautifully treated is the psychology of all other characters. Let me focus and make some comments on Lily (Dorothy Malone), the cynical, life-tired former saloon-girl, devoted to a revenge against Clay, which she visibly makes a point of, without being really convinced of the sense of adding violence to violence. Malone is perfect for the role. Her charming beauty make us fully believe that both Clay and Morgan were once infatuated with her. And her splendid, sad, stern yet ironic eyes describe the weariness of her inner core more effectively than words. Lily has a pair of my favorite lines. "How could I love you... a cripple!", showing her capacity to wound her hated enemy Morgan, where it most hurts. "What do you want? A whole life in one night?": Lily loves Johnny, who is going to face a mortal duel, yet she's unable to check her spiteful irony, to get rid of her own former wasted life, showing herself worse than she actually is. And, moreover, she can't stand these preposterous honor codes of men killing each other, and for what? Really great stuff!

Other merits of "Warlock": the perfect script, the accurate photography, the magnificent locations. The acting by Fonda, Quinn, Widmark, Malone is superb, to say the least: that's exactly what we expect from them. The final clash between Fonda and Quinn is a powerful piece of cinema. Splendid movie, highly recommended (even to people not fond of westerns).

Reviewed by Righty-Sock ([email protected]) 9 / 10

A pretty exciting law and order Star Western...

The Colt revolver was a tool and the more you study the men who used it at a high professional level the more it becomes obvious that they were also tools, sometimes unwittingly, sometimes (according to Western films) quite the opposite... Necessary tools, necessary men in a very compressed package of American history... They have their brief moment on the stage and then it's time to take their leave, preferably with their boots on, knowing, or not knowing that they've done the job that history actually required, but that history, in fact, won't thank them for it...

Fonda—a quiet dominant personality in Westerns—puts this over perfectly in Edward Dmytryk's 'Warlock,' unpretentious Western… Here Fonda is a professional hired gun brought in specially, and most temporarily, one always feels, to calm down a town plagued by cowboys, some of them with outlaw affiliations...

Every word he says ('I'm a simple man, handy with Colts'), every calculated ploy, shows that he's marvelously clear-eyed about his situation—that today he's wanted, that tomorrow he won't be—because he's an old professional and it's all happened before...

Spruce as spry as ever, Fonda is Clay Blaidsdell, a legendary gunfighter, the ideal professional gunman with great expectations... He is hired, temporarily, by the citizens of Warlock to clean up their town from the outlaws... The movie focuses on his rise when he succeeds in removing the bad guys in a spectacular confrontation, and his fall when he is forced to face his best friend in a showdown...

Fonda brings with him his hero-worshiping right hand and conscience, the ex-killer Tom Morgan (Quinn), who challenges his one-man rule, one vindictive old girlfriend and one loving new flame... When the pair defeats the San Pedro gang, one of its members, Johnny Gannon (Widmark), stays behind and volunteers to become Blaisdell's deputy...

As an uneasy peace settles onto Warlock, the relationship between Blaisdell and Morgan deteriorates when the marshal finds romance with a local girl, Jessie Marlow (Dolores Michaels). Gannon, meanwhile, becomes involved with Lily Dollar (Dorothy Malone), who at one time had been Morgan's mistress and now hates both Blaisdell and him for killing a man she had hoped to marry...

Blond for the only time in his career, Quinn – curious and different as the complex, clubfooted gambler-gunman whose relationship with Clay, leans rather strongly toward homosexuality – made Dmytryk's multi-plotted film somewhat daring for its time... Its complicated story line, working at various levels, and its shadowy psychological innuendos, turned off critics and audiences alike, and from several corners came concern that Dmytryk had carried the 'new convention' Western too far too fast... Nevertheless "Warlock" remains a typical law and order Star Western, well written, pretty exciting, and entirely in the classic mold...

Reviewed by jpdoherty 7 / 10

Another Wonderful Fifties Western.

WARLOCK (1959) was the final entry in the roster of splendid Cinemascope/color westerns that 20th Century produced in the fifties. With a star studded cast headed by Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn and Dorothy Malone this project was produced and directed by Edward Dymtryk. The excellent screenplay by Robert Alan Aurthur derived from a novel by Oakley Hall and the superb cinematography was by the great Joe MacDonald.

Warlock, a small mining town in the west, is plagued by the unruly and lawless cowhands from the San Pablo ranch who wreak havoc every weekend on the hapless citizens. The gang have just run the current Sheriff (Walter Coy) out of town and the impatient town council have now decided enough is enough. They make the decision to hire a gunfighter - an expensive gunfighter. So along comes a famous Marshall by the name of Clay Blaisedell (Henry Fonda) and his friend and bodyguard Tom Morgan (Anthony Quinn) to take on the job. He also brings along his portable gambling casino complete with the shopfront hoarding naming his gaming saloon "The French Palace". (He explains to the council "What you pay me for keeping the law would hardly keep me in ammunition for my gun practice - gambling is my business - it's how I make my living"). But through one difference or another and having to outdraw and kill his friend Tom Morgan and set his gambling saloon alight the town eventually sours against the Marshall. The now reformed gang member and newly appointed Deputy Sheriff Johnny Gannon (Richard Widmark) tells Blaisedell he'll have to leave town by morning. The picture ends with Gannon confronting Blaisedall the next day with the gunman easily outdrawing him. But surprisingly the Marshall capitulates and tosses his gold handled six-guns into the street to the visibly shocked Deputy's relief. Then with a wry smile to Gannon the colourful gunfighter mounts his horse and rides on out of town forever.

Performances are generally excellent throughout! Although Widmark has top billing it is clearly Fonda's picture. His Clay Blaisedell is the film's pivotal personality. As the well dressed gunfighter he is cool, smooth and lightning fast on the draw - as one challenger (DeForest Kelly) finds out to his utter astonishment in one gripping scene. Fonda hasn't been this good in a western since his superb portrayal in "The Tin Star" two years previously. Good too is Quinn in a really meaty characterization as Blaisedell's neurotic, over-protective and club- footed bodyguard. Also effective is Tom Drake as the Pabloite gang leader but Dorothy Malone is quite irritating and gives her usual breathless overwrought and over played portrayal of an old flame of Blaisedell. Better, and prettier to look at too, is Dolores Michaels as his newer love interest.

Underlining this engaging western is the music of Leigh Harline. The composer had worked before with director Dmytryk on the excellent "Broken Lance" (1954) which elicited from him his best score. Here his music is just as dramatic. The music under the titles is robust and determined featuring strident strings against repeating and striking brass figures pointing up the menace of the errant San Pablo gang. There is some tender music for the scenes with Fonda and Michaels and a reflective lyrical cue for Blaisedell himself which is wonderfully uplifting for the end scene as he rides out of town.

WARLOCK is a good western and warrants repeated viewings. A well structured character driven drama set in an engaging western environment and well played by an equally engaging cast in what is yet another memorable movie from the cinema of yesteryear.

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