Good Western with usual ingredients : Western drama , fast draw , street shootout and surprise ending . In the turn-of-the century Texas town of Cottownwood Springs , sheriff Frank Patch (Richard Widmark) in a Western town determined to become modern , and where there are cars and contemporary stores as post office , saloon , livery stable , undertaking , hardware , publishing print ... When Frank murders drunken Luke Mills (Jimmy Lydon) in self-defense , the town authorities decide it's time for a change . The city fathers (Kent Smith , Morgan Woodward , Larry Gates , Royal Dano , Carroll O'Connor , David Opatoshu) ask for Patch's resignation , but he rejects on the basis that the town on contracting him had promised him the job for as long as he wanted it . Afraid for the city's future and even more afraid of the fact that sheriff Frank seeks revenge , Eastern investors and bankers call another deputy (John Saxon) and ultimately find out a way to kill their gunslinger marshal . Then , all of them decide that old-style violence is the only way to rid themselves of the angry lawman . As Patch has to take a stand when the powerful people take over his town . What happens in the ending makes one of the most dramatic climaxes of any story you've ever seen! .
This acceptable , meaty Western contains interesting plot , intrigue , thrills , shootouts and results to be quite entertaining . Well-paced as well as rare Western balances action , suspense and drama . It's a classical recounting about a veteran as well as unwanted sheriff , a peace-loving who is really an expert shooter and surrounded by cowards and frightening people ; being probably one of the strangest Western of the sixties . This is an atypical but thought-provoking western with a lot of reflection , distinguished moments and dramatical attitudes , in addition a multitude of enjoyable situations . The picture profits from Richard Widmark's portentous interpretation , he gives a top-drawer performance , he is an awesome expert in the art of conjuring sensational , terrific acting . Interesting screenplay from the novel "Death of a Gunfighter" by Lewis B. Patten . The traditional story and exciting script was well screen-written by Joseph Calvelli though clichés run through-out , the agreeable tale is enhanced for interesting moments developed among main characters and especially on the relationship between Richard Widmark and Lena Horne . The highlights of the film are the climatic showdowns , the love story among protagonists , and , of course , the final gundown . The casting is frankly nice . Very good acting by Richard Widmark as an old-style lawman who knows all the town's dark secrets . Here are reunited a top-notch plethora of secondary actors , many of them playing vicious citizens who take advantage of the frightened townspeople such as Carroll O'Connor , David Opatoshu , Kent Smith , Morgan Woodward , Larry Gates , Dub Taylor , John Saxon and Royal Dano . Atmospheric cinematography in Technicolor is superbly caught by cameraman Howard Jackson , though being necessary a perfect remastering . Thrilling as well as atmospheric musical score .
The motion picture was rightly produced by Richard Lyons and well directed by Donald Siegel and also uncredited Robert Totten . However , star Richard Widmark and original director Robert Totten had "artistic differences," and Totten was replaced by Don Siegel . When the film was completed, Siegel, saying that Totten directed more of the film than he did, refused to take screen credit for it, but Widmark didn't want Totten's name on it . A compromise was reached whereby the film was credited to the fictitious "Alan Smithee" , thereby setting a precedent for directors who , for one reason or another, did not want their name on a film they made . Siegel first feature as a director was 1946's The Verdict (1946) . He made his reputation in the early and mid-'50s with a series of tightly made , expertly crafted , tough but intelligent "B" pictures , among them : The Lineup (1958), Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954) , then graduated to major "A" films in the 1960s and early 1970s . Director Siegel brought an entirely new approach to the Sci-Fi field Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) . He made several "side trips" to television, mostly as a producer . Siegel directed what is generally considered to be Elvis Presley's best picture , Flamingo Star (1960). All of Eastwood's later Western and his ¨Dirty Harry¨ movies owe a considerable debt to Sergio Leone and Donald Siegel . As Donald directed Eastwood in various films , such as : ¨Coogan's bluff , The beguiled , Dirty Harry , Escape from Alcatraz and Two mules and sister Sara¨. He had a long professional relationship and personal friendship with Clint Eastwood , who has often said that everything he knows about filmmaking he learned from Don Siegel .