|Cover, Criterion Collection|
Someone has already called this western a cowboy soap opera, so I won’t take credit for that label, though it fits. Glenn Ford is fine in this handsome Cinemascope production shot against the Teton landscape of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. (Ford was pretty much fine in anything.)
Playing the title role of Jubal Troop, he’s a cowboy down on his luck who seems unable to escape being drawn into even worse luck. Though we know little to nothing of his back-story, a history of mischance and bad breaks is etched in his expression in scene after scene.
Plot. Found afoot and freezing by a ranchman (Ernest Borgnine), Ford is offered a job as a cowhand and is quickly promoted to foreman for his work ethic and dependability. Borgnine seems to be the first person who has ever liked and trusted him, and a strong bond builds between them.
This development rubs another of the hands (Rod Steiger) the wrong way, who takes an Iago-like dislike to Ford from the start and makes no secret of it. Even more problematic is Borgnine’s unhappy wife (Valerie French), who quickly makes seductive moves on Ford, further angering Steiger, who’s been having an adulterous affair with her already.
|Glenn Ford as Jubal|
Long story short, Steiger finally turns Borgnine against Ford, and in the misunderstanding and confusion that follow, Borgnine is killed. Matters are not resolved until a posse pursues Ford and finds him at yet another death scene, where the truth of Steiger’s villainy is finally revealed.