A sombre, somewhat simplistically liberal Western from a novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark in which three drifters (Andrews, Quinn and Ford), lynched as rustlers on the flimsiest of evidence, are posthumously proven innocent by good guy Fonda (interestingly, the film's dynamics and characterisations can be seen to prefigure Twelve Angry Men). But for all the obviousness of its 'message' (which once made it seem a landmark in the genre), the movie is impressively taut, not merely because of Wellman's tersely economic pacing of his material, but because Fox's decision to cut costs by shooting it entirely on a studio set serves, ironically, to increase the mood of claustrophobic tension. Indeed, its affinity to film noir is evident not only in the dark shadowy photography, but in the gallery of grotesques that populates this decidedly uncelebratory portrait of the frontier spirit.
Cast and crew
Mary Beth Hughes