Egghead western, written by the Scottish novelist Alan Sharp, largely devoted to the esoteric military tactics involved in rounding up a small Apache raiding party. You realize how unfamiliar you are with the fine points of Indian fighting when you hear one cavalryman eulogized as "a good man," shortly after you have uncomprehendingly watched him gallop to the aid of a distraught woman and child, shoot the woman squarely in the forehead, stick the pistol into his own mouth and fire, and abandon the child to the mercies of the Apaches. Robert Aldrich's direction is generally in service to the fascinating script and to the cast of archetypes, quietly well played by Burt Lancaster, Bruce Davison, Richard Jaeckel, and above all Jorge Luke; but he always rises to special occasions. An especially beautifully constructed action scene comes to pass when the wise old trail scout finds himself alone on an open plain, bearing down on two Indians who guard the entire string of Indian horses -- and as he spurs his own horse to full tilt, and his hatbrim is pinned up by the headwind, and he unsheaths his Winchester with a graceful baton-like twirl, he becomes a figure magically brought to life out of a Charles Russell painting. 1972.

5.0 stars

— Duncan Shepherd

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