One of Ray's most beautifully bizarre projects (though he never fitted easily into the restrictions of genre), merging Western conventions with ecological and philosophical concerns as, in Florida at the end of the 1890s, teacher-turned-game warden Plummer takes on a gang of unruly, primitive poachers led by the awesomely charismatic Burl Ives, who are killing off the local rare birds for their fashionable, valuable plumage. With an often poetic script by Budd Schulberg and Joseph Brun's glistening location photography (in ravishing Technicolor), it effortlessly combines artifice with realism, and besides offering a strong argument in favour of conservation, also develops into an oblique meditation on the relativity of good and evil. Ives may spit in the face of God to win his hard-earned money through killing and commerce, but Ray makes no bones about his being closer to nature than Plummer.
Cast and crew
Gypsy Rose Lee