(director/writer: Delmer Daves; screenwriters: Russell S. Hughes/from the novel Jubal Troop by Paul I. Wellman; cinematographer: Charles Lawton; editor: Al Clark; music: David Raksin; cast: Glenn Ford (Jubal Troop), Ernest Borgnine (Shep Horgan), Rod Steiger (Pinky), Charles Bronson (Reb), Valerie French (Mae Horgan), Felicia Farr (Naomi Hoktor), Basil Ruysdael (Shem Hoktor), Noah Beery, Jr. (Sam), Jack Elam (McCoy, Bar 8 Rider), John Dierkes (Carson), Robert Knapp (Jake); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Fadiman; Columbia; 1956)
“It’s an intriguing Western with big-time star appeal.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Delmer Daves (“Broken Arrow “/”Dark Passage”) directs this CinemaScope Western that he adapts with Russell S. Hughes from Paul I. Wellman’s novel “Jubal Troop.” It’s an intense melodrama about uncontrolled passions let loose on a Wyoming ranch. It might be considered a Western Othello in the way it uses jealousy as a weapon for strife, though its dramatic presentation differs greatly from the Bard’s version.
Jubal Troop (Glenn Ford) is a hard-luck drifter who gets caught in a blizzard in the Grand Tetons and is rescued when lying unconscious on the ground by kind-hearted rancher Shep Horgan (Ernest Borgnine). Shep nurses him back to health and offers him a job as a hired hand, despite the objections of his mean-spirited cowhand Pinky (Rod Steiger) who claims Jubal stinks like a sheepherder–an occupation in those parts which has a negative connotation. Jubal busts a bronco and proves he’s no sheepherder, as fellow Shep cowhands Sam (Noah Beery, Jr.) and Carson (John Dierkes) applaud the effort.
Shep’s attractive young Canadian wife of 16 months Mae (Valerie French) can’t stand her unattractive husband and his crude ways, feeling trapped in a marriage where there’s no way out. She is attracted to Jubal, but is displeased that he wants no part of her. Pinky spots the loving way she looks at Jubal and becomes increasingly upset that she no longer wants to make love with him. When the opportunity arises he suggests to Shep that Jubal is messing around with his wife. This sets off an explosive situation resulting in a series of events that lead to murder and revenge.
Reb (Charles Bronson) is a drifter who helps out a wagon train camped out on Shep’s spread, who have stopped to take care of their sick but will soon be moving on in their search for the Promised Land. Jubal recommends Reb for a job at the ranch, and when hired the two drifters become close friends. When lies from both Pinky and Mae cause a posse to want to lynch Jubal, Reb takes the wounded Jubal to hide in the wagon train of the virtuous and attractive Naomi Hoktor (Felicia Farr). Jubal tells Naomi, the woman he fell in love with on first sight, that he was running all his life because his mom hated him and wished him dead, and he found this out as a 7-year-old when his loving dad was accidentally killed trying to rescue him after he fell off a barge.
It all leads to the honest and straightforward Jubal redeeming his good name by taking on the psychopathic Iago figure Pinky in a final confrontation. This comes after Pinky is unsuccessful in egging on the posse to lynch Jubal after Mae is found raped and beaten.
It’s an intriguing Western with big-time star appeal.
REVIEWED ON 9/26/2004 GRADE: B+