The Traveling Executioner

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"BEAUTIFUL! In 38 seconds he'll send you on your way to the Fields of Ambrosia, sizzling like a piece of bacon."
  • R
  • 1970
  • 1 hr 34 min
  • 6.3  (449)

The Traveling Executioner is a 1970 American comedy-drama film set in the southern United States in the early 20th century. The film stars Stacy Keach as Jonas Candide, a traveling executioner hired by US prisons to carry out executions by hanging. The film highlights the life and career of Jonas as he travels from town to town, carrying out executions and dealing with the consequences of his profession.

The film explores themes of life, death, morality, and the human condition. Jonas is given the task of carrying out executions, but he struggles with the morality of his profession. Throughout the film, he wrestles with his conscience, trying to justify his actions while struggling to come to terms with the true impact of his work. This existentialist struggle of Jonas is central to the film, as he must come to grips with the fact that he is responsible for ending lives.

The Traveling Executioner also explores the nature of justice in society. Jonas is repeatedly confronted with the harsh reality of Southern justice, where justice is frequently biased and often times unjust. This leaves Jonas to question not only his own profession, but the effectiveness of the justice system as a whole. This is seen in the character of Jonah, who is portrayed as an intelligent, rational man who is still not sure if he is doing the right thing by executing those who are deemed unworthy of living.

The film also features a romantic subplot, as Jonas falls in love with Roberta (Marianna Hill), the daughter of a man he is supposed to hang. This helps to humanize Jonas and adds a romantic and dramatic element to the story. However, their relationship becomes complicated when Jonas is assigned the task of executing Roberta's father, a man he has grown to respect and sympathize with.

Throughout the film, there are also moments of humor, with the character of Bubber (Bud Cort), a teenager who becomes Jonas' apprentice, providing comic relief. Bubber is an idealist who is exploring his own place in the world, and serves as the film's moral compass.

The Traveling Executioner was directed by Jack Smight and written by Garrie Bateson. It was produced by David Susskind, who spared no expense on the film's production. The film's set design and period costumes are top-notch, immersing the viewer in the time period and setting.

The film's performances are also noteworthy, with Stacy Keach delivering an outstanding performance as Jonas Candide. Keach is able to capture the complex emotional struggle Jonas faces with his profession, conveying both the humor and the tragedy in his character. Marianna Hill is also excellent in her role as Roberta, bringing a strong sense of vulnerability and sensitivity to her character.

The Traveling Executioner was not a commercial success upon its release, but it has since gained a cult following for its combination of dark humor and serious subject matter. The film is a thought-provoking exploration of morality that raises questions about justice and the nature of existence. It is a must-see for fans of character-driven dramas, and is a remarkable achievement in American cinema.

The Traveling Executioner is a 1970 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 34 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.3.

The Traveling Executioner
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 34 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.3  (449)