Judge Roy Bean and the Movies
By Greg Fieg
In the 1940s Samuel Goldwyn classic motion picture "The Westerner," Oscar-winning character actor Walter Brennan, playing Judge Roy Bean, departs his humble cantina in Langtry to meet his fate at the hands of lawman Gary Cooper at Fort Davis in the high Davis Mountains of West Texas.
Hollywood took some liberties with the facts, but Fort Davis, about a 40-minute scenic drive from the intersection of Interstate 20 and Interstate 10, has preserved and restored the historic frontier Army post, which is on display and available to the public for tours.
At Langtry, the origin of Brennan's ride, Bean's historic cantina has also been preserved and can be toured. Bean, a historic figure who has grown to almost mythic proportions, had proclaimed himself the only "law west of the Pecos," and held court across the bar of his tavern during the pioneering days along the Mexican border.
Langtry, named after the 19th century songbird Lilly Langtry, to whom Bean was devoted, was once near the scene of a heavyweight title bout staged by Bean across the Mexican border to avoid U.S. regulators.
Langtry can be reached by automotible on US 90 between Laredo and Alpine.
Judge Roy Bean