In Apache territory, a supply Army column heads for the next fort, an ex-scout searches for the killer of his Indian wife, and a housewife abandons her husband in order to rejoin her Apache lover's tribe.
Two friends return home after their discharge from the army after the Civil War. However, one of them has had deep-rooted psychological damage due to his experiences during the war, and as his behavior becomes more erratic--and violent--his friend desperately tries to find a way to help him.Written by
Opening credits: The characters and incidents portrayed and the names used herein are fictitious and any similarity to the name character or history of any person is entirely accidental and unintentional. See more »
At the court scene (00:30:10), William Holden's character makes the same movement twice in consecutive shots whilst getting off the chair. See more »
Best friends Owen and Del, along with local men, are mustered out of the Union army at Civil War's end. Trouble is Big Ed has grabbed the men's gold-bearing land while the men were gone, and now, as a judge, Owen has to enforce the law in Big Ed's favor. This splits the community into warring factions.
Gritty, character-driven western. We know at outset that Owen (Ford) is a flawed character when his Union detachment shells surrendering Johnny rebs. In fact, Owen hides his killer instinct behind an uptight rendering of authority, whether as a colonel or as a federal judge. Ford plays the authoritarian part so grimly (count the smiles—I stopped at zero), it's hard to see how the charming Caroline would be attracted to him. Nonetheless, the interplay between best-friends Ford and Holden is involving and forms the story's core. Alliances between the various factions are sometimes hard to keep up with, but are more unpredictable than usual. And I especially like that final maneuvering around the bridge that I didn't see coming.
Columbia Studios popped for a lot of extras, along with fine special effects, especially when the burning wall comes down. Funny, though, how mountainous Colorado looks like greater LA. Too bad Columbia didn't pop for sending the crew at least to Lone Pine and the Southern Sierras. All in all, it's a very different kind of horse opera that avoids the usual clichés, with Ford at his absolute grimmest. Clearly, however, he and Holden are on their way up the Hollywood ladder.
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