Law of the Lawless, originally known as Invitation to a Hanging, is a 1964 film that was the first of producer A.C. Lyles' inexpensive second feature Westerns shot in Technicolor and Techniscope for Paramount Pictures. It stars Dale Robertson and Yvonne de Carlo.
This was the last feature film of William Bendix, with his daughter Lorraine also in the cast.
Big Tom Stone runs a Kansas town in 1889. His son Pete is jailed for the murder of a man named Stapleton, and into town to oversee the trial rides the circuit judge, Clem Rogers.
Rogers has enemies. Among them are the Johnson brothers, who hold a grudge against the judge, and hired gun Joe Rile, employed by Big Tom to make sure Rogers doesn't convict his son.
A saloon girl, Ellie Irish, is introduced to the judge in an attempt by the Stones to sully Rogers' reputation with others in the town. It backfires when Ellie testifies that she saw Pete in a compromising position with the wife of Stapleton, after which the victim was drawn into a gunfight. Pete is convicted and Big Tom's men disobey his orders to gun down the judge in cold blood.
Dale Robertson ... Judge Clem Rogers
Yvonne De Carlo ... Ellie Irish
William Bendix ... Sheriff Ed Tanner
Lon Chaney Jr. ... Tiny
Bruce Cabot ... Joe Rile
Barton MacLane ... Big Tom Stone
John Agar ... Pete Stone
Richard Arlen ... Bartender
Jody McCrea ... George Stapleton
Kent Taylor ... Rand McDonald
Bill Williams ... Silas Miller
Rod Lauren ... Deputy Tim Ludlow Tuffy
George Chandler ... Martin
Don "Red" Barry ... Johnson Brother
Roy Jenson ... Johnson Brother
Jerry Summers ... Johnson Brother
Regis Parton ... Drifter (and stunt coordinator)
Alex Sharp ... Rider
Laurel Goodwin ... Mrs. Stapleton
Following the departure of the producers of Paramount Pictures B picture unit Pine-Thomas Productions, their publicity director A.C. Lyles, who had been employed by Paramount since the age of 14 was employed by the studio to produce second feature films. During this time Paramount arranged to loan Lyles to CBS where he was involved with the production of the Rawhide series in order to learn about Westerns.
A 1963 Paramount production meeting noticed there were no Westerns set to be made by the studio despite the incredible popularity of American westerns in overseas markets. Lyles offered to make a low budget Western in a rapid amount of time, buying a script from his friend screenwriter Steve Fisher.
The film was initially set to star Rory Calhoun, but Calhoun came down with pneumonia the night before the production was set to start filming. Dale Robertson stepped in at six hours notice. Lyles had acquired the friendship and respect of a galaxy of experienced actors who offered their services to his production.
The film was first issued in Italy in late 1963. Its initial American release was as a double feature with Robinson Crusoe on Mars. When the film did well at the box office, Paramount asked him how many more Westerns he could do a year. Lyles replied "five" and he was given the go ahead to produce more second features for the studio.