Locale of the production is southwest Texas, a territory around Brownsville, that is under the thumb of a group of outlaw gangs controlled by Anthony Quinn and his lieutenant (Robert Taylor). When Howard Keel tries to found a cattle empire and brings in settlers, the outlaws fight back, knowing they will be through if civilization comes to the land.
John Farrow’s direction stirs up plenty of violent action as he plays off the story. While the script is a bit vague in development of some of the personalities, overall effect is okay for the outdoor fan, although more critical audiences would have liked less obscurity. Keel brings Ava Gardner, his bride, to his new homestead, only to find it a smoking ruin as the result of a Quinn-directed raid. Keel builds again, stronger this time, after he fails to unite the townspeople and the sheriff against the outlaw. When the new home is ready, Quinn’s forces attack.
Taylor is very good in selling the quiet menace of his character, and Quinn stands out as the flamboyant outlaw leader. Gardner provides physical beauty to a character that is not as well stated as it could have been. Keel does well by his determined, foolhardy character.