Sven Hanson is one of a number of farmers whom Ed McNeil wants to run off their land (because he knows there's oil on it). When Hanson is murdered by McNeil's gunman, Johnny Crale, Hanson's friend Pepe Mirada hides his knowledge of the murderer's identity in order to protect his family. When Hanson's son George arrives and takes up his father's cause, not only Mirada but also Johnny Crale begin to reevaluate their attitudes. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
In El Dorado John Wayne has occasion to remark to Ed Asner that since he doesn't carry a gun himself he hires it done. And then the Duke went on to make some remarks about the quality of his help.
But the reverse of the coin is when who you hire is too good for you to argue with. That was the problem that Sebastian Cabot has with Ned Young, a brooding killer who he hires to intimidate some farmers to get off land that unbeknownst to them has oil. It was at the end of the frontier days and the great oil discoveries that were to make Texas and oil synonymous were just being discovered.
One guy who won't be pushed is a Swedish farmer who Young kills. His son played by Sterling Hayden comes to town asking questions. Like Hayden in real life, the son is a seaman who's strange in that western environment. He carries no gun, but only a harpoon from his seafaring days.
By this time Hayden was ready to leave Hollywood for Tahiti and was just trying to earn enough money to sail there with his kids. He'd been a friendly witness at the House Un American Activities Committee It must have been a bit strained on the set because the screenplay was by Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood Ten. Trumbo was still writing under pseudonyms though.
Hayden walks through his role, the real acting here is done by Ned Young and Sebastian Cabot. Both of them are a pair of hateful people, Cabot the greedy capitalist and Young the stone killer.
Western fans won't be disappointed however, especially at the final confrontation at the end.
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