In 1872, Indian fighter Johnny MacKay is appointed peace commissioner for the California and Oregon territory but he faces tough opposition from the renegade Modocs led by their brutal chief Captain Jack.
In the 1880s Jason McCord travels the country trying to prove he's no coward. He needs to do this because the military career of this West point graduate came to an end when he was thrown out of the army after being accused of cowardice.
Twenty-five years ago the Lavery baby was kidnapped. Bad guy Leffingwell gets Choya to impersonate the son to gain the Lavery estate. When he finally fesses up to his "sister" Ruth she is furious. To redeem himself he sets out to find the real son. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Alan Ladd's character is washing up (takes his shirt off to reveal the fake birthmark) after riding the unbroken horse, he uses a faucet from a modern pressurized water system rather than a period hand pump. See more »
All my life, I've been a snake. I've lived by my wits. I've gotten what I've wanted anyway I wanted it. Just lately I've been wondering just for once if I couldn't do something straight... do something a little decent.
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Some have said it's too bad Ladd made "Shane", because it overshadowed this great piece. I'd like to think there's room for both great Westerns to fill the honor roll of classic Westerns.
Ladd plays a gunman named Choya. He's probably a lot like Shane, only perhaps a month before Shane becomes the character we see in his film.
He's recruited by an older man to pretend to be the son of a wealthy rancher, a son who was kidnapped at the age of five.
Many revelations come about during the movie, and most of them very early. The new partner of Choya (Ladd) quickly shows himself to be the last person you'd want near you, a true monster. Yet he's a very believable monster. The first death scene, which is a murder committed by this man, may be one of the best Hollywood stunt scenes ever done. It's worth watching all on its own. Too bad we never see the victim again, as he is a character we could truly like, which makes the act even more deplorable.
The dramatics and action that unfold are rugged "tough guy" Western traditions united with very believable motivations. This is a great script, and it is superbly directed, which also means the acting is superb.
I won't spoil the film any more. It is a truly great Western, made during the golden age of Westerns, when people actually knew some of the rugged individualists of the late nineteenth century and the West, before all of our information came from self righteous rich kids and bubble boys who probably never stepped foot in a park by themselves.
Enough of the cynicism. Back to the film. It's rich and full of every ingredient, action, drama, three dimensional characters, pathos, scenery, everything that makes a great film. So sit back and enjoy.
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