William Wyler was a music student in Paris when he was hired by his distant cousin, Universal Pictures boss Carl Laemmle. Wyler initially directed more than 40 Western-themed shorts, the basic low-budget action fare of ’20s Hollywood, for Universal. But when he began making features, the director turned away from cowboys and six-guns. He returned to the genre about 15 years later, after he’d earned a reputation for adult themes and technical perfectionism. The result was The Westerner, an Old West tale in which the conflict is mostly psychological. Gary Cooper, in one of his best roles, plays a drifter accused of horse theft; he faces “hanging judge” Roy Bean (Walter Brennan, who won his third Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role). Also along for the ride was cinematographer Gregg Toland, who developed his innovative “deep-focus” technique to accommodate Wyler’s preference for long takes. The film screens at 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th St. SE. $5. (202) 547-6839. (Mark Jenkins)