After a card shark is caught cheating, he is taken out and lynched by the drunkards he was playing against. Soon afterwards, the men who were in the lynch mob start being murdered, one after another; all by hanging, strangling, or smothering. Who will be killed next and who is responsible? Is it one of the original party seeking to cover their accursed deed, or perhaps the mysterious Rev. Jonathan Rudd, who has recently arrived in town?
Great murder mystery western
Dean Martin is cool and steady as the gambler who takes part in a game of five card stud that turns deadly. When he tries to stop the lynching of a cheating player, he’s overpowered. Soon after the lynching, every one in the game is methodically murdered in the most inventive ways. One man is strangled with barbed wire, another is drowned in a flour barrel, etc. Dean spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out who’s doing the killing.
While Dean is great, Roddy McDowall is fantastic as the sniveling brother of Dean’s girlfriend. He’s a mean, cowardly, lying weasel, and no one ever played a weasel better.
Yaphet Kotto is fine as the bartender, and Inger Stevens has a small, shining role as the local purveyor of tonsorial delights (a barber). Robert Mitchum comes into the film a little late; while he’s straight and true as the scripture-spouting preacher who sweeps out the long abandoned church and begins hold services, you know he’s hiding something.
All in all a fine film. Maybe a little too long, though; the whole movie doesn’t amount to much more than enjoyable entertainment, but the actors and the acting in it make this really worth watching.