The environment is the Montana headlands of the Missouri River, where pioneer John McLiam is range boss, local political muscle and pretty well master of the territory. Enter Jack Nicholson, leader of the area’s horse thieves, out to avenge a colleague’s death while facilitating his work by buying a ranch near the McLiam property as a rest stop for stolen horses.
Finally comes Marlon Brando, vicious frontier hired gun, engaged by McLiam to ferret out the Nicholson gang.
The trouble with The Missouri Breaks is that one is seriously drawn to it on its upfront elements, but leaves with a depressing sense of waste. As a film achievement it’s corned beef and ham hash.