“You’re not only a coward, Stroud — you’re a fool.”
When a soldier (Glenn Ford) fighting at the Alamo is randomly selected to check on families back at home, he is spared from massacre but branded a coward. After leaving a surviving boy (Marc Cavell) with a kind young woman (Julie Adams) in a wagon train, Ford seeks revenge on the bandit (Victor Jory) responsible for killing his family — but can he help the entire wagon train stay safe, and earn back his honor?
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Budd Boetticher Films
- Glenn Ford Films
- Julie Adams
Before achieving breakthrough success with the so-called “Ranown” cycle of films he made with Randolph Scott — including Seven Men From Now (1956), The Tall T (1957), Decision at Sundown (1957), Buchanan Rides Alone (1958), Westbound (1958), Ride Lonesome (1959), and Comanche Station (1960) — Budd Boetticher directed this solid western for Universal Pictures about a brave man unfairly accused of cowardice. There are definite parallels between Ford’s character here and another film he made the same year — The Big Heat (1953) — given that both protagonists are embittered men seeking vengeance after losing their wives; however, in this case, while Ford’s John Stroud temporarily pretends to be corrupt (siding with Jory’s gang for instrumental purposes), he never seriously goes down a path of moral descent. (He’s clearly meant for a future with beautiful Adams.) Russell Metty’s cinematography is lovely, and Boetticher keeps the action moving nicely, especially towards the unique ending; it’s nice to see women given a chance to shine in a western showdown.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Glenn Ford as John Stroud
- Russell Metty’s cinematography
- An exciting climax
No, but it’s strongly recommended as another fine outing by Boetticher.