A band of vigilantes catch Jed Cooper (Clint Eastwood) and, incorrectly believing him guilty of cattle rustling and murder, hang him, and leave him for dead. But he doesn’t die. He returns to his former profession of lawman to hunt down his lynchers and bring them to justice.
Solid western with an interesting theme of law and revenge
Ex-lawman turned cattle rancher Jed Cooper is taken newly purchased cattle back home when he is caught by a posse who accuse him of murder and lynch him. They ride off to leave him to die, however he is cut down by a group of marshals who add him to their prisoners and take him to the judge. Having had his story cleared Cooper is offered a job as a marshal and agrees to do it. However when his first task is to arrest the men who hung him can he take the stand away from revenge and on the side of the law.
I watched this cause I do like a good western every now and again. The actual plot is quite simple on the surface man out for revenge, but it uses it quite well. It makes some interesting parallels between the hanging of men by the lynch parties and the hanging of men by a judge. It doesn’t fully make it’s point but it is good to have something to think about in a western. Outside of this the film has some good drama even if the end feels more like the conclusion of an episode in a TV series rather than the finale of a film.
Of course the reason for this may be Post’s involvement as director. He used to direct Rawhide with Eastwood and was picked for this film to support Eastwood. This was his first American film after doing all those spaghetti westerns and I assume he wanted a familiar hand on the tiller. He does well here as he always did with his western characters, I read that he also directed some of it. The rest of the cast are made up of a few famous names (Bruce Dern, LQ Jones for example) but regardless everyone does well in their roles.
It’s not a classic western but it rises above the average by having a good lead in the shape of Eastwood and some plot strands that go beyond the revenge storyline and encourage you to think of deeper issues.