Warmth of a father’s love and faith, and the devotion of a boy for his dog, are the stand- out ingredients of this suspenseful and fast-action post-Civil War yarn. Michael Curtiz, too, has achieved fine feeling in his direction of the screenplay, based on an original by James Edward Grant, and is backed by some fine color photography.
It’s the characterizations that hold forth most strongly, topped perhaps by the very appealing performance of David Ladd, star’s 11-year-old son who plays Alan Ladd’s boy in the pic. Youngster has been shocked mute during Union forces’ sacking of Atlanta during the war, when he saw his mother killed and his home destroyed by fire, and it’s Alan Ladd’s dogged wandering of the land to find a doctor who can cure his son which motivates plot.
Action unfolds in a small Southern Illinois community, where Ladd is drawn into a fight with the two sons of Dean Jagger, a big sheep-raiser; the payment of his fine after his arrest by Olivia de Havilland, a lonely farm-woman whose property is coveted by Jagger; and Ladd working out this fine on the farm.