16 April 2012 | dougdoepke
Complex but Entertaining
Complex western that manages pretty well to stay afloat. You may need a scorecard since the screenplay involves four different factions bouncing off one another. Scott displays his usual iron-jawed determination as the captain torn between loyalty to his native Texas and the Union cavalry. The bad guys, as usual in these post-Civil War oaters, are the greedy carpetbaggers, headed up by that excellent actor Hugh Sanders. And who can overlook perennial fall guy Elisha Cook doing his usual fierce rabbit bit.
The rivalry between the two captains, Scott and Barker, is an interesting feature, especially when it extends to Scott's wife (Kirk). That scene where the home-sick wife is captivated by the handsome Barker is both well played and unusual for a western. Note too how Scott is compelled by the byplay to fade into the background, another unusual feature for a western hero.
Though filmed just west of LA, the rolling scenery makes a good Technicolor backdrop to the action. Much credit for making the elements work should go to director de Toth who was skilled at handling conflict as shown in his masterwork, Ramrod (1947). The redoubtable Sam Peckinpah also selected de Toth to direct many episodes of his groundbreaking TV series The Westerner (1960).
On the whole, it's a complicated story of personal and political conflict but still delivers the goods for fans of westerns.