19 June 2013 | chipe
superior B-Western on all levels
Very superior B-Western. It is well cast. The posse is made of heterogeneous, well fleshed-out characters --more so than the usual Western. I enjoyed everything about the film, even stolid, amiable star Audie Murphy, who seemed tolerable. Most of the time, in an understated way, he seemed to keep from laughing out loud or reprimanding his inept posse crew. It must amuse most fans that while Murphy was the most decorated American soldier in WW II (maybe US history) in real life, his movie presence is often milquetoast.
I want to mention three very unusual things about this movie, all commendable in my opinion: One, in most Westerns the bad guys hold up the bank, quickly race out of town, and an instant posse takes off after them. But here there was an amazing scene that I found believable and in tune with the movie. The bad guys killed the marshal and some others and DIDN'T rush out of town. Instead they took over the saloon, sat down at some tables and gave orders and threats and killed some as examples, for an extended period of time. It made some sense to me. The townsfolk were not soldiers or gunmen. They didn't want to die, so they didn't fight back.
Two, when the posse came across one fatally wounded outlaw (Van Cleef), he lie on the ground telling them that they had a duty to care for his wounds, but Murphy said they couldn't spare a man to take Van Cleef back to town or to tend to him on the spot, so they had to leave him to die there.
Three, most Westerns would end with the death of the last outlaw, but not this one. After the last outlaw is killed, Murphy carries John Saxon (good as a posse member) a few miles back to town in triumph to be congratulated. But the film refuses to end there. There is a lot of talk about the dead marshal who had recommended bad boy gunfighter Murphy for the job, about Murphy possibly becoming the new marshal and talk with the girl (Zohra Lampert, a favorite of everyone) about her future.