James Coburn’s debut. Randolph Scott plays a bounty hunter determined to bring in his query at all costs. Coburn plays the dim-witted sidekick of a man Scott meets on the trail.
Coburn holds his own in a stacked cast. His physical build—lanky with impossibly long forearms—conveys a slight sense of unease that befits his part.
But this is Scott’s movie, and I loved him. His gray temples and worn face betray his sixty years. A grandpa bounty hunter. A grandpa that has craps tougher than you. Never uncomfortable, even as the sweat trickles down his temples. Lean but made of steel.
Director Budd Boetticher photographs the action in a brutal landscape of rocks and near-desert contrasted with breathtaking mountain backgrounds. No hint of soundstage ease, the cast looks hot and uncomfortable.
Burt Kennedy’s script takes a simple premise and ratchets up the narrative and emotional stakes. The final shot borders on haunting. My lone complaint lies with Karen Steele’s character, who feels obligatory. She’s there for Scott’s character to talk to, but little else.