Victor Mature exudes southern gentility in this formulaic, but nonetheless thoughtful Western, which was co-produced by John Wayne's Batjac company.

As a Confederate captain protecting his young daughter, two stranded sisters and a Union army payroll from marauding Modoc Indians and a couple of desperadoes, Mature combines the Duke's imposing machismo with the stiff decency of Randolph Scott. But, while he banters briskly with Faith Domergue and Elaine Stewart, he's at his best in action sequences that lose little impact for being filmed on soundstages rather than on location.

That said, William Clothier's widescreen monochrome imagery has the disarming beauty he brought to his work for John Ford, while director Francis D. Lyon (a former Oscar-winning editor) allows time to explore the seething political undercurrents, with the scenes involving wounded black army contractor Rex Ingram making for intriguing contrast with the references to the embittered scout orchestrating the Modoc mayhem.
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