Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
In this intelligent and exciting western, Van Heflin plays a hard-up rancher who is barely holding on to his property thanks to the bad luck that has befallen him. He longs to prosper if only to prove to his sons that he is a worthy and admirable father, so when the opportunity comes to make a little extra money, he jumps at it.
The opportunity is a dangerous one, however: he helps men of the law escort a recently captured, dangerous criminal (Glenn Ford) to the station to catch a train, their duty to ensure that Ford’s friends don’t try to help him escape. Themes of masculinity, the clarity of the law and the shady nature of morality are all tossed up in the air, but there’s enough strength of narrative and character to keep it from ever feeling preachy or dry. The film received a sterling redux treatment with James Mangold’s excellent remake in 2007.
The Criterion Collection: #657