My will is law

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German title My will is law
Original title Tribute to a Bad Man
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1956
length 95 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Robert Wise
script Michael Blankfort
production Sam Zimbalist for
music Miklós Rózsa
camera Robert Surtees
cut Ralph E. Winters

Jeremy Rodack - My Will Is Law is an American western directed by Robert Wise from 1956. The plot is based on the short story Hanging's for the Lucky by Jack Schaefer . In the lead role, James Cagney plays a stubborn rancher in his last western role who does not shy away from vigilante justice and threatens to lose his lover.


Wyoming in 1875 : Steve Millar, a young, inexperienced grocer from Pennsylvania , is eager to be a cowboy. He happened to witness a shootout between the influential horse baron Jeremy Rodack, who had built a considerable horse empire over the past 20 years, and several horse thieves. Millar rushes to the aid of the wounded Rodack and thus saves his life. In gratitude, Radock gives him a job on his ranch. At first Millar is happy, but the darker side of ranch life soon becomes visible: Rodack plays himself a judge in the event of criminal offenses in his remote area, far from the judiciary, and punishes even simple horse thieves with death.

The vigilante justice happens much to the displeasure of Jeremy's Greek friend Jocasta, known as "Joe", whose entire family was once killed in the war. Jocasta, who was a dancer in bad pubs before she met Jeremy and is ashamed of her past, loves Jeremy despite everything. The foreman McNulty tries to seduce Jocasta and harass her, but she refuses. Jeremy watches Jocasta and McNulty leave the stables together and immediately becomes jealous. He dismisses McNulty and delivers a fight with him, at the end of which McNulty is on the ground. Meanwhile, Steve, too, has a faint love for Jocasta.

When one of his ranch workers is killed in a horse theft , Jeremy Rodack rides off with his men in search of the perpetrators. Without any evidence, he suspects his former business partner Peterson, who denies the act. In fact, Peterson has given shelter to two rather shady characters named Hearn and Barjak who killed the ranch worker. When there is another attempted horse theft, Rodack and his men intervene. Peterson is shot while trying to escape, while Hearn - much to the inexperienced Steve's horror - is hanged at the behest of Jeremy. Peterson's son Lars tries to avenge his father and therefore joins the plans of the ex-foreman McNulty and the bandit Barjak to steal as many horses as possible from the property of Jeremy. Steve has since confessed his love to Jocasta and offers her to leave the ranch with her, but she refuses.

McNulty, Lars Peterson and Barjack meanwhile steal numerous horses from Rodack. However, the rancher quickly finds out about them and can disarm them. To his horror, however, he discovers that McNulty has destroyed the horses' hooves, making the horses painful every step. Rodack forces the three thieves to take off their shoes and run barefoot through sand, stones and cacti to the distant office of the nearest sheriff. The next day the thieves are near unconsciousness and Steve urges Jeremy to finally have mercy. Finally, Jeremy can bring himself to give McNulty and Barjak the freedom. He brings Lars back to his mother and offers him help with the management of the farm, but a bitter Lars refuses for the time being. Meanwhile, Steve wants to leave with Jocasta, and Jeremy realizes that this is mainly due to him. Jeremy rides after Jocasta to bring her some jewels she had left behind. Steve and Jocasta realize that she really loves Jeremy and so she finally returns to him.


Originally, Spencer Tracy and Grace Kelly were planned to star in the film, but Kelly didn't like the script and therefore declined. Subsequently, the Greek Irene Papas, who was largely unknown in America at the time, was given the female lead, for Papas it was to remain one of her few Hollywood roles, but she later celebrated great success in Europe. Tracy had been dying to work with Grace Kelly, when it did not materialize and the unknown Papas was cast instead, he lost interest in the film and repeatedly stayed away from filming or was late without excuse. When he asked that the film set , which was built in the high Rocky Mountains , be moved downwards because it couldn't keep up with the altitude, Tracy was fired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. For Tracy, leaving this film project also meant his separation from MGM, who terminated Tracy's contract after a total of 20 years.

Instead, James Cagney got the role of Rodack, it was his last western. The character of Steve Millar also had to be rethought, as his original actor Robert Francis was killed in a plane crash a few days before filming began . The largely unknown Don Dubbins (1928-1991), who previously only had minor film roles, then received this role.


The German dubbed version was created in 1956 in MGM's dubbing studio in Berlin. A few names have been changed in the German version.

role actor German Dubbing voice
Jeremy Rodack (English version: Jeremy Rodock ) James Cagney Ernst Schröder
Steve Millar Don Dubbins Sebastian Fischer
Jocasta "Joe" Constantine Irene Papas Lola Müthel
Foreman McNulty Stephen McNally Horst Niendorf
Lars Peterson Vic Morrow Horst Buchholz
Barjak James Griffith Axel Monjé
Hearn Onslow Stevens Manfred Meurer
Mr. Peterson James Bell Paul Wagner
Marty (English version: Baldy ), cowboy Chubby Johnson Eduard Wandrey
Fat Jones, cowboy Lee Van Cleef Toni Herbert


The March 31, 1956 issue of the New York Times gave the film a largely positive review and praised the camerawork and the actors in particular. The Lexicon of International Films wrote that My Will is Law is a "psychologically in-depth Western with good milieu drawing and convincing actors". Overall, he found the work “well above the average” of the Western genre. Prisma wrote that Robert Wise's film was a “Western classic in which James Cagney convinces as an unscrupulous patriarch. Robert Wise created a psychologically gripping picture of life in the old west . ” Cinema similarly judged the film as“ straightforward and psychologically compelling ”.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b My will is law. In: Retrieved February 8, 2018 .
  2. ^ Tribute to a Bad Man (1956). In: Retrieved February 8, 2018 .
  3. ^ Tribute to a Bad Man (1956). In: Retrieved February 8, 2018 .
  4. German synchronous index: German synchronous index | Movies | My will is law. Retrieved February 8, 2018 .
  5. Gereon Stein: My will is law. In: Retrieved May 27, 2019 .
  6. Movie Review - Palace Offers 'Tribute to a Bad Man' - Retrieved February 10, 2018 .
  7. My will is law. In: Retrieved February 8, 2018 .
  8. CINEMA Online: My will is law . In: CINEMA Online . ( [accessed on February 8, 2018]).