This powerful western drama directed by the admirable Delmer Daves, is a none too thinly disguised reworking of Shakespeare's "Othello". Ernest Borgnine still in the afterglow of his oscar for "Marty"(55) plays the role of Othello. Rod Steiger is a brooding Iago. "He don't like nobody, not even himself". Valerie French plays the temptress Desdemona and Glenn Ford plays our hero Cassio.
In the film Shep Horgan played by Borgnine finds a badly injured Jubal Troop played by Ford, and takes him back to his ranch. Horgan takes a shine to him and he is later offered a job at the ranch which he takes. Matters become complicated when Horgan's unfaithful wife played by French, also takes a more carnal shine to Troop, who then replaces Pinky another ranch cowhand, played by Steiger, as the object of her dangerous affections. All these shennanigans turn Pinky apoplectic with rage. Never a happy bunny at the best of times he begins to go very bad indeed. So bad that he does not require a black hat to identify him. Jealousy and anger fan the flames of tragedy. A wicked web of lies and intrigue is spun to trap the unsuspecting Jubal, and cause a shattering rift between himself and his great friend Horgan. We head inexorably toward death and redemption for some.
The film boasts an unusually strong cast who all give strong performances. Borgnine maintains his powerful good form and Ford is reliable as ever. Steiger perhaps steals the show as the villainous Pinky, a juicy role very similar to his Jud Fry in "Oklahoma"(55). Charles Bronson offers strong support as a stalwart friend of Ford, and Noah Beery Jr appears yet again in one of his decent reliable cowhand roles. It is a somewhat dark psychodrama and not what you could describe as a traditional western. But it is very, very good like much of Daves excellent canon of work. I have given it four stars but it comes very close to five. Highly recommended.