A Covenant with Death
|A Covenant with Death|
|Directed by||Lamont Johnson|
|Based on||A Covenant with Death (1964 novel) by Stephen Becker|
|Music by||Leonard Rosenman|
|Edited by||William H. Ziegler|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
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Within a small Southwestern town on the Mexican border in 1923 America, a promiscuous married woman is found dead in her bedroom. Her grieving, jealous and widely disliked husband, Bryan Talbot (Earl Holliman), is convicted of her murder and sentenced to hang on purely circumstantial evidence. The presiding Judge Hochstadter (Arthur O'Connell) departs for a fishing trip, leaving it up to the inexperienced, 29 year old Mexican-American judge (and lothario) Ben Morealis Lewis (George Maharis), to oversee the execution. Problem is, Lewis has his own misgivings about mandatory sentencing and capital punishment in general, and about Talbot's guilt in particular.
In a stunning turn of events, Talbot unintentionally kills his executioner while trying to avoid being hanged for a murder he fiercely denies having committed. While awaiting the arrival of a replacement hangman, another man confesses to killing Talbot's Wife. Judge Lewis must negotiate various relationships (with his mother, and two very different women for whom he harbors strong and conflicting feelings), in addition to provincial attitudes about love and marriage, sexuality, modernity, maturity, cultural integrity, group loyalty and his faith in the triumph of justice.