After the Civil War, Union Major Clanton captures survivors of Quantrill's Raiders, and gets them clemency at the cost of shooting a mob member. Convicted of murder by a kangaroo court, Clanton escapes and joins the former raiders in a gang devoted to robbing everything protected by the corrupt detective agency of his enemy Fowler; culminating in a personal showdown. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Clanton is seen pouring bourbon under his bandage. He pours for about seven seconds, yet his pants, the bandage and his leg never show signs of getting wet. When he takes the bottle out from behind the bandage, it does not appear to have any less liquid in it. See more »
And Frank? Well, he was just a homesick farmer who traded his plow for a rifle, and always a mite bitter about it.
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Opening credits: "This story tells a forgotten chapter in the violent history of the West. Months after the tragic war between the States had ended there was still no peace on the Western Frontier." See more »
Well-stocked Western, full of plot, divided loyalties and shifting alliances. After the war, Union Major Robert Ryan processes amnesty for Confederate raiders led by Bruce Cabot. Trouble is that carpetbagger detective agency led by Preston wants the ex-Confederates' and Ryan's hides. Add Claire Trevor as Preston's ex-wife, and a number of subplots, and you've got plenty of story.
The powerfully intense Ryan holds the many threads together and is near the peak of his exceptionally fine career. The cast here is unusual, featuring a number of former leading men, such as Cabot, Tierney, Preston, and the one-shot Buetel best known for camp classic The Outlaw (1943). And, of course, there's a crusty old Walter Brennan adding color as veterinarian and ex- horse thief Doc Butcher (not the best name for a doctor).
Obscure director William Russell has a nice eye for location landscapes that, at times, are quite striking. The movie's at its best, I think, when Ryan is interacting with the Confederates. It's a nice study in wary respect among macho men. I could have done without Trevor's subplot, but at least it's woven believably into the main plot. However, after the big build-up, I thought the final shoot-out was rather anemic and disappointing. Nonetheless, the movie holds interest throughout, (especially the fine first part), with a number of colorful characters, scenic vistas, and more story conflicts than usual.
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