Some bastard shot her husband. So now some bastards need shooting in writer/director Brett William Mauser’s more-than-decent Lady Lawman. An indie western shot outside San Antonio, it is based on the true story of Francis Miller, a female U.S. Deputy Marshall in what was called back then “Indian territory” (where is this so-called territory? Trick question, the answer is everywhere.)
The film opens with Marshall Buck Johnson (Jake Jecmenek) in a stand-off against a gang of outlaws fresh off a robbery. These bandits are led by the ruthless black slaver Richard Andrews (Carlos Leos). When Johnson is about to smoke them out, Andrews has a couple of his men surrender. But the ruthless man strapped some stolen dynamite to them, blowing two of Johnson’s deputies to kingdom come. This allows Andrews to escape with his vile henchmen Webb (Brett William Mauser), with Johnson hot on their trail.
“…[Miller] is disturbed by Johnson and Martinez’s bloodthirsty methods to bring law to a lawless land.”
The marshall stops by the old Miller place, run by the widowed Francis Miller (Ryan Jasso) and her mother (Liz Mccullough). Francis is still smarting after her husband and father were murdered by some bastard. Knowing Francis and her husband spent time with the Creek tribe, Johnson hires her as a tracker. Along with deputy Ernesto Martinez (Ernest Martinez), they leave Paris, Texas, heading out to the outer ring of Hell, chasing Andrews. Miller dreams of getting deputized herself so she can hunt down her husband’s killer. However, she is disturbed by Johnson and Martinez’s bloodthirsty methods to bring law to a lawless land. The further out into the wilds Miller ventures, the hazier the notion of good and evil gets.
Lady Lawman is some good Western storytelling with a made-in-Texas pedigree to boot. When I lived in Austin, I was always impressed with San Antonio — an impression that has grown as Austin gets increasingly expensive. The film gets a lot of production value on a budget of most likely two buffalo nickels vigorously rubbed together. Mauser is a dead shot at cinematography. His compositions are mighty pleasing, especially when he bravely employs shadows from natural lighting for expressionistic purposes.
"…[has elements] of both classic American Westerns and revisionist European Westerns..."