Director: John Sturges
Starring Cast: Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Carolyn Jones
US Marshal Matt Morgan (Douglas) is desperate to seek vengeance on the men who raped and murdered his mixed race wife. The killers leave behind a saddle that he recognises as the possession of his friend Craig Belden (Quinn), a prosperous cattle rancher in the close by town of Gun Hill. Realizing that Belden’s son Rick is one of the killers, Morgan goes to Gun Hill to apprehend him. Though compassionate about the death of Morgan’s wife, Belden unsurprisingly refuses to turn over his son when the marshal makes known the reason for his visit, stating that Morgan owes him for having once saved his life. Not only must Morgan trace and apprehend Rick, but he has to do so before the last train leaves Gun Hill at 9pm.
This is an excellent adult western from director John Sturges, a master of the Western genre.
Rape was not frequently referred to so directly in Hollywood films of the time, and this portrayal is chiefly disturbing given its tranquil woodland setting, its radical motivation and the fact that it is witnessed by the victim’s young son. Kirk Douglas is at his most powerful and hard-nosed, never asking for empathy, while Anthony Quinn matches him in passion. The marvellous landscape is the ideal setting for the high powered action, and the film is made all the more effective because of the thrilling climactic scene.