Set during the Pacific War against the Japanese, this WW2 drama discerns between achieving one's mission at any cost versus preserving the lives under one's command and enforcing discipline through fear as opposed to mutual respect.
Playing against type, Dean Martin is an ex-lawman who has decided to illegally profit from his abilities. He now owns most of the town of Jericho, and has hired a band of gunmen to enforce his edicts. Outside of town, Martin ambushes a stagecoach that is carrying a passenger, ex-marshal George Peppard. From a hidden spot in the brush, Martin shoots up the coach and rides away. Arriving in town, Peppard meets Jean Simmons who has refused Martin's attempts to take over operation of her stage line. After a few days, Peppard becomes attracted to Simmons, but he sees that the odds against them are too great, and is on the verge of leaving town. But, after Martin physically roughs up Simmons, Peppard organizes the few men in town who are willing to put up a fight, and attacks enterprises that are owned by Martin. Finally, in a showdown, Martin and Peppard battle it out, ironically in the same spot that Martin originally ambushed the stagecoach.Written by
WILLIAM L TRAVIS
Just before the final showdown, the wagon driver tosses his cigarette to the side. About 20 seconds later in another shot the wagon driver is still holding his smoke. See more »
Obvious stunt doubles in the fight between Dolan and Yarbrough, with Dolan's double having dry straw coloured hair compared to Dolan's (George Peppard) own hair being darker and, certainly, not dry. See more »
Normally I love westerns, and I am willing to accept some flaws in them, but I found this particular western a chore to sit through. The lead performances, for one thing, hurt the movie. Now, I am not saying that Peppard and Martin were miscast, but they were not directed well here. Peppard seems out of place, while Martin does not come across as ruthless enough to be believable as a villain.
But what really hurts the movie is the script. The mix between comic sequences and brutal action do not fit together very well. Also, the first half of the movie is almost all talk talk talk, and not very interesting talk. And Peppard's character doesn't do anything in that first half to try and change the desperate situation. Things do pick up somewhat in the last part of the second half, but it's too little too late.
By the way, Leonard Maltin's video guide branded this movie as "gory", but by today's standards it's not very bloody.
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