With the Civil War ended, Confederate veteran Jim Trask (Jock Mahoney) heads back to his hometown of Abilene. Jim discovers his sweetheart Peggy (Martha Hyer), thinking he was dead, is engaged to his old friend Dave (Lyle Bettger).
Although he has trouble firing a gun due to a friendly fire incident during the war, Jim accepts his old job as sheriff when he's pressured into taking it by Dave. Jim feels responsible to Dave because Dave lost his right hand in a childhood accident with Jim...and there are other reasons as well.
Bettger is always such a slimy villain, but he brings quite a bit of nuance to his role. Dave's on the verge of having it all -- money, nice house, pretty wife -- but he also could lose it all very quickly. The scene where his world crumbles is rather moving, even though he clearly has done some very bad things and doesn't deserve audience sympathy. It's the mark of good acting that Bettger makes the viewer feel for him.
Martha Hyer, a leading lady in so many Westerns, does a fine job here as well; her first two scenes with Jim, as they are reunited after the war, are filled with regret and longing. I feel compelled to add she has quite a nice hairstyle in this; she's like a chameleon in her films, often looking quite different from movie to movie, and in Columbia's WYOMING RENEGADES (1954) she had a peculiar platinum blonde hairstyle which might have been a wig. She looks lovely here.
Charles Haas and shot by Irving Glassberg.
A bit player of note: Pauline Moore, who was Ann Rutledge in John Ford's YOUNG MR. LINCOLN (1939), is a townswoman. She was off the screen after 1941, then returned to movies and TV for a few projects in the mid to late '50s.
Western fans will like this one. Unfortunately it's not on VHS or DVD. Thanks for John Knight for making it possible for me to watch it.