Despite the fact that the credits list John Sturges as this western’s director, you’d swear the Clint Eastwood feel is written all over it.
For starters it’s a Malpaso production that includes James Fargo as assistant director and Buddy Van Horn as the film’s stunt coordinator. Fargo would graduate to actually directing both Eastwood films The Enforcer and Every Which Way But Loose. Likewise, Van Horn would move on to direct Clint in Any Which Way You Can, The Dead Pool and Pink Cadillac.
Both Don Stroud and Gregory Walcott were actors who Clint employed more than once as well. Walcott it should be noted was the star of the infamous Plan Nine From Outer Space and will therefore always have a place in cinema history.
The film itself is taken from an Elmore Leonard novel. Eastwood opens the film as a town drunk that witnesses John Saxon thumb his nose at the courts over land rights which sets the plot in motion.
With Saxon and his group of renegades on the run, Robert Duvall and company arrive by train looking to hire ex-tracker Eastwood to help hunt down Saxon. It won’t be long before Eastwood’s sympathies begin to switch sides.
Duvall employs the likes of Stroud and Paul Koslo to do his killing. Men with no conscience and pull the trigger at whomever Duvall points to. Given time that same finger is pointing at Eastwood’s quiet hero.
Once the time comes for Clint to take action he’s caught in the middle of a range war between Saxon and Duvall. Both men are strong characters in their beliefs and not likely to give in without the inevitable bloodshed. This allows Clint to dish out his own brand of Dirty Harry justice on the American west frontier.
As for our credited director Sturges, he needs no introduction. His list of successful tough guy films includes both The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape.
Clint was more or less getting started here in both his producing and directing careers and it’s fun to look back at this title where he has gathered a first rate cast that includes cinema treasure Robert Duvall.
The character actor I’d like to point out here is Mr. Koslo. During the seventies he seemed to turn up opposite many stars of the day including Clint, John Wayne and in Mr. Majestyk where he tries to intimidate Charles Bronson. Good luck with that. Of his low life roles, it’s my favorite.