Directed by Ted Post
Written by Leonard Freeman and Mel Goldberg
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens, Pat Hingle, Bruce Dern, Ed Begley
Jed Cooper (Eastwood) found himself on the end of a rope after being mistaken for a cattle rustler by a group of vigilantes (Begley, Dern). After surviving the noose, he has returned as a Marshal. Now he’s out to find the men who tried to hang him. As he hunts for the men he is determined to bring them in alive, even if it’s just a detour to the gallows. His only support comes from the widow, Rachel Warren (Stevens). She’s willing to stand by him, even as his cold brand of justice is put to the test.
This is one of my personal favorites when it comes to Eastwood. This one was directed by Ted Post (Magnum Force) who is often better known for his work in television. This one was based on the story by Leonard Freeman (The All American) and Mel Goldberg (The Lively Set). The cast features a number of great actors including Clint Eastwood (A Fistful of Dollars) and Bruce Dern (Django Unchained). The film also includes Inger Stevens (Firecreek), Pat Hingle (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby), and Ed Begley (12 Angry Men).
Like most Eastwood Westerns, this movie is all about revenge. The two writers put together a simple and obvious plot that takes off thanks to the characters. Each one of the fugitives and law men are created as unique and interesting people. Although the plot is simple, the emotion it seeks to portray is not. This emotional conflict plays nicely alongside the obvious physical conflict in front of the characters. Yes, this is a predictable film at times, but it’s got a lot to offer overall.
The acting in this one is surprisingly good from just about everyone involved. Some of the supporting characters give weak performances, but none of them pull down the overall experience too much. Eastwood is his normal cold-blooded self in this one, giving a nice performance. Inger Stevens does a good job playing his opposite, as the supportive widow as well. Additionally, Begley, Dern, and Hingle all give nice performances throughout the film. Sure, this isn’t Oscar material, but the cast makes it worth watching.
The visuals in this one are actually pretty good. The action is nicely portrayed and the camera work takes advantage of the high points in the plot. Like many Westerns of the day, the set design and costuming isn’t remarkable, but it works with the story well enough. I enjoy the use of music that comes along with the Westerns of the sixties as well. Each swell of the score is used to accentuate something of importance and it makes the experience pretty fun.
This is a good movie, and a personal favorite of mine. It didn’t change the genre or open up new possibilities, but it works because of simplicity. The direct nature of the story is perfect when paired with the likes of Clint Eastwood. If you’re a fan of his films, this is one to check out. I would also recommend this to fans of Westerns or any of the other stars. I give this one 4.3 out of 5 stars.