Jeff Arnold’s West

The blog of a Western fan, for other Western fans

The Lawmen (Barber Motion Pictures, 2011)




There’s a little sub-genre of Western that might be described as a family film. Not a family film in the usual sense of that term, namely an anodyne, bland and unchallenging affair that once upon a time parents might have safely watched with their children, but a family film in the way that several members of a family got together to make it.


The Lawmen is a straight-down-the-line traditional Western with no postmodern pretensions or trendy narrative kinks or anything, just a tale of how a Texas Ranger and his brother foil the plot of some bad-guy ex-Confederate conspirators who are seeking a trove of gold in order to overthrow the Union and restore slavery.



The picture was directed and written by Matthew Barber and Nathaniel Barber, who were also cinematographers, editors and soundmen, and it was produced by David Barber, while leading parts are played by Bill Barber and David Barber, and a smaller part by Pamela Barber. You get the idea.


The trouble is that all these Barbers may be wannabe film makers and/or actors but are hopelessly inept.


I am certainly no expert on the mechanics of how to make a film; nor am I an actor. Yet we viewers all somehow know immediately when we are in the presence of beginners or those without talent. The whole thing just looks wrong. The pace of the film is uneven, to say the least, and though there is a good deal of sporadic ‘action’, aka simulated violence, the movie seems to drag. The actors deliver their plodding lines most unconvincingly, saying out loud the words they have dutifully learned, with pauses in all the wrong places. The picture was shot on camcorders, often hand-held, and is jerky. All the actors are clearly wearing costumes and look life docents in a historical reenactment.



The music, surprisingly not credited to a Barber but to one Juan Carlos Enriquez, is a straight but very weak imitation of Elmer Bernstein, only without the zip.


The IMDb entry on this film says that “Filming began in 2007 and lasted until 2011.” It seems a similar length of time must have elapsed when you have finished watching it – which, however, I would advise you not to do.


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