Synopsis: Posing as a hangman, Mace Bishop arrives in town with the intention of freeing a gang of outlaws, including his brother, from the gallows. Mace urges his younger brother to give up crime. The sheriff chases the brothers to Mexico. They join forces, however, against a group of Mexican bandits.
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Director(s): Andrew V. McLaglen
Production: 20th Century Fox
Rotten Tomatoes:
106 min

A couple of saddle tramps just rode in.

Looks like they're stopping

at the Lost Love.

But they're not going in.

Yes, sir, I know, I know.

You people are thieves.

Did you know that?

I've been paying interest so long,

I plumb forgot what the capital is.

Nobody forced you to come in...


Did you hear that? "Force"?

Me with a wife, a mule, two Leghorn

roosters looking for a hen...

...and six young ones to feed,

and all this fool can say is "force"?

- It'll be a cold day in...

Never mind the hard stuff.

We'll just take the paper.

Come on, come on, give me your gun.

This is force, mister.

Get out!


Drop it!

Pick it up. Don't let me stop you.

Come out! Drop them!

Don't look too good, does it, Bishop?

Roscoe, go open up the cells. Cort... and Hawkins

help me cover them.

If one of them even spits,

blow his head off.

I need a doctor.

- You ain't hurt. Move!

They shot Nathan Stoner

and killed one of my clerks.

Get your hands up.

John, get Doc Curtis over here

right away.

Bishop, you and one other

in that first cell on the right.

- In there, old man.


I figured you'd hit me a turn

one of these days, Bishop.

When they write about you...

...they'll call Val Verde

your end of the line.

Well, I've never seen anything so bad

that a little money or talk can't settle.

You can talk till you're blue

in the face if you've a mind to.

I'm a different kind of sheriff

than you've been used to.

- What's that supposed to mean?

- Means you can't beg, borrow, steal..., break or pray

your way out of my jail.


Nathan Stoner just died.

Roscoe, you men search them

and take their gun belts.

All right, let me have them.

Give me a Rosebud, will you?

Coming up.

Say, have you heard about any jobs

to be had around San Anton?

No, and a hundred others have asked

me the same thing since sundown.

Uh-huh. Who do I see about

getting a cot tonight?

- Me, if you got 50 cents.

- Fifty?

The sign over there says

That's when things are slow.

- It's kind of steep.

- No laughing, no talking... singing, no drinking

and no snoring and no spitting.

Right through that door,

and don't step on anyone.

I wanna bed down the horse.

Is there a livery handy?

Across the street.

He charges 60 cents.

Well, that seems fair enough.

Seems to me like you could stand

a good scrubbing yourself.

Water washes away

a man's protection...

...lets miseries into his body,

and I'm too old to take chances.

If what you're saying's true,

you're the best-protected man in town.

Well, I ain't sick, never been sick

and don't intend to be sick. Next!

Now, if you're gonna shave,

I'll fill a pan...

...but if you ain't, I won't.

- Fill the pan.

They tell me you're a hangman.

They told you right, friend.

Left Oklahoma City three weeks ago

and headed for Val Verde, Texas.

This'll be one of the biggest jobs

I've had in years:

The Bishop gang.

Judge found them guilty as sin.

Sentenced them to hang

high as a Georgia pine.

Good for the state of Texas too

when they're out of the way.

- How many did they catch?

They killed one, caught five.

Ex-Quantrill men, mostly.

Leastways, Bishop is.

Be the first Texans I ever hung.

I plan to enjoy it.

Hey, bring my clothes over here,

will you?

- Ain't you gonna shave?

- No.

What in the worid...?

Can't make up their mind.

I can't stand it...

...I've gotta keep this place


A fella can't even make up his mind...


- Howdy.

Get down and set a spell, friend.

Got more fish here if you're hungry.

Mighty generous of you.

I'm a generous man. Believe in it.

Make yourself at home.

Coffee there. Sweet biscuits there.

Hey, you got all the comforts.

- Yes, sir, friend. I enjoy life.

My soul's on fire with the spirit of it,

if you know what I mean.

That's fine.

Well, it looks to me like

you must be a rope drummer.


No, just the tools of my professin.

I'm a hangman.

A hangman? Well, I declare.

On my way to hang the Bishop gang

down in Val Verde.

Oh, yeah. I heard about that.

Well, they finally got that bunch, huh?

Caught, jailed, tried and gonna hang.

Well, I sure am happy

to come across you, Mr...

Grimes. Ossie Grimes,

of the Oklahoma Grimes.

Mr. Grimes, yes, sir.

Yeah, I sure am happy I've run across...

You know, I've always been

sort of curious about your job.

Well, there's a lot more to it

than most folks think.

There's nothing worse

than a sloppy hanging.

Back in Oklahoma, I once watched them

hang a fella five times before it took.

Five times? Five?

Just exactly what do you

have to know, Mr. Grimes... order to make a good,

clean, professional job of it?

Well, just about everything.

You have to know how tall

your subject is, how much he weighs...

...his neck size

and how he feels about it all.

- Then you have to be certain...

- Excuse me.

You mean to say you have to know... the fellow you're gonna hang

feels about it?

Oh, yes, sir.

A scared man who's crying

and praying and shaking...

...and moving around is

harder to send to his maker...

...than one who's decided

to just stand there and take it.


Why, I had a subject last year...

...took me an hour

just to get him up off his knees.

- Is that a fact?

- That's a fact.

You can't hang a subject

when he's on his knees.

It just don't look right.

And I'll tell you one more thing.

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James Lee Barrett

James Lee Barrett (November 19, 1929 – October 15, 1989) was an American author, producer and screenwriter. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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