Vinnie Holt, a single woman traveling with her toddler niece, becomes stranded at Rawhide, a desert stagecoach stop managed by stationmaster Sam Todd and his assistant Tom Owens. Owens is quickly impressed by Vinnie's independent self-confidence. Jim Zimmerman, a fugitive murderer from Huntsville Prison disguised as a deputy, and three other ruthless escapees take over the station, intent on robbing the next day's gold shipment. After murdering Sam, Zimmerman knows they must keep Tom alive in order to complete their plans. Owens does not correct Zimmmerman's assumption that Vin is his wife, correctly sensing that the misconception might be the key to her survival also. Written by
Predictable, perhaps, but not exactly conventional
This film, sometimes predictable, is nonetheless quite watchable. And then, of course, if you start to think about what's happening on screen and the metaphorical possibilities thereof, you may feel like you've discovered a hidden gem.
Susan Hayward aficionados (I won't exactly say fans) will never be bored, as Miss Hayward gives it her typical spitfire all from the get-go, her performance liberally punctuated with her signature eye-squints, chin-jerks and tit-thrusts.
Compared to Hayward, in fact (and this hardly seems accidental), Tyrone Power's character is seen as quite emasculated. From the beginning of the film he has "lost" his gun, and it is Hayward, not he, who takes out the last bad guy. One scene has him preparing bacon, beans and coffee for the bandits that have wrought such murder and mayhem on the stage coach depot he reluctantly manages.
Visually, the film is quite striking, with an impressive mise-en-scène that alternates between wide shots expressing the vastness and solitude of the West and extreme--and unusually-constructed--close-ups that explore characters both good and evil and as well make us a part of the growing intimacy between Hayward and Power.
Finally, fans of gunplay will thrill to the extremity of the scene where one particularly incorrigible gunman makes his last stand by taking pot-shots at Hayward's toddler ward, Callie.
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