Bronson suffers from galloping symbolism as Valdez, a wild horse-taming Mexican halfbreed representing different things to different people. Overall, he is the mustang, caught in a wild West which is being tamed and fenced in by white settlers. To Jamie, a young white boy, he is manhood, tough and tender. To the white English lady (Ireland), he is mustang again. And to her brother, he is contaminating dirty devilry. The wild and the tame correlate with the old and the new, against the backdrop of a magnificent herd of wild horses, led by a superb stud. Despite a few dodgy moments when one really fears for Valdez' co-optability by Ireland's well-kept fragility, the film maintains its contradictory stance right through to a bitter-sweet ending. Valdez leaves, sans wife, sans house, but on his own terms, and after ensuring that if he can't tame the wild horses no one else will.