The Traveling Executioner is a macabre, tastefully seamy comedy-drama about bayou prison life, circa 1918. The original Garrie Bateson screenplay stars Stacy Keach in an outstanding performance as an infectious con-man.
Bateson’s first screenplay, written as a U of Southern California student, is dominated by Keach, the professional executioner who makes $100 per client. He’s a promoter from the word go, but an underlying, disarming sincerity about the job makes the character believable and sympathetic. Keach’s talents convey the whole spectrum of his role.
A literal description of the story does injustice to the whole; there are some gritty elements and some broad comedy elements – earthy enough to anchor the story in its proper context.