Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn star in this 1959 western as two old friends that had run together in their younger days, then forged separate paths. Craig Belden(Quinn) has become a cattle baron and the real ruler of the town of Gun Hill. He owns virtually everything, including the town law. Matt Morgan has become a U.S. Marshall and is married to a Cherokee woman, having a nine year old son together.
On the way back from visiting her father, with their son, a pair of drunken cowboys attack and rape her, killing her at the end. The boy escapes on one of the horses wearing a distinctive saddle trimmed with a lot of silver.
Morgan goes looking for the two murderers with only two clues, the saddle, knowing who it belongs to, and the knowledge that his wife laid open one of the attacker’s cheeks with a whip.
He heads to Gun Hill to return his friend’s saddle and pick up the trail there, only to realize by Belden’s evasive manner that his son, Rick(Earl Holliman), is one of his wife’s murderers. Belden refuses to turn him over and Morgan vows to find and take him out on the train, the next one in, which doesn’t arrive for six more hours.
When he takes Rick prisoner, no one will help him, the sheriff refusing to let him hold him in a cell until time. He takes a room in the hotel and a tense standoff begins. Belden’s lover(Carolyn Jones), who Morgan met on the train in, has sympathies for Morgan, Rick having come between her and his father.
I enjoyed this one and picked up on similar themes with 3:10 To Yuma, as well as several other westerns of the era. I’d never heard of this one before Bill Crider ran the trailer one day on his blog and then spotted it showing last week on Turner Classic Movies. I recorded it(I love my DVR) and finally watched it this morning.