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Big landowner Jessica Drummond (Barbara Stanwyck) is pretty much ruling
a small Arizona town with the help of her gang of gunmen dubbed the Forty
Guns ... That is until the Bonnell Brothers - Wes (Gene Barry), Griff
(Barry Sullivan), the most feared gunman of the West, who didn't have to
fire one single shot because of his reputation, and Chico (Robert Dix),
the young hothead -, a trio of Marshals, come to town, and before you know
it, Jessica's young brother Brockie (John Ericson) is arrested for having
shot Marshal Chisum (Hank Worden) in the leg, something for which Brockie
has never before been arrested ...
Of course, Jessica gets her brother out in no time, but she finds her
spell over the town being somewhat broken ... and she feels immensely
attracted to Griff (and vice versa).
Then Griff arrets one of Jessica's men, Swain (Chuck Roberson), who has
held up a stage, which only leads to more complications because Brockie
and the local Sheriff, Logan (Dean Jagger), seem to have been in cahoots
with Swain, and thus have him shot, then try to go against Griff as well -
which only leads to more bloodshed ...
During all this, the romance between Griff and Jessica is only
intensifying, and Brockie feels he is losing more ground - until he
decides to shoot Griff publicly, and at his brother Wes' wedding to the
local gunsmith's assistant (Eve Brent) too ... but unfortunately he kills
Wes instead, and suddenly finds himself on the run, from the law and
especially from Griff. But Griff, an experienced lawman, has no problems
tracking him down and locking him in.
Jessica does everything to get her little brother out again, even if
that means to sell off everything she owns to buy him the best lawyers and
bribe judge and jury - but to no avail, Brockie is convicted to death by
the rope - upon which he in one last, desperate attempt takes his own
sister hostage and tries to shoot his way out. However, Griff is so
overcome by anger that he shoots the hostage who is also the woman he
loves (not fatally though), then after Brockie is without protection, he
guns him down mercilessly, letting out all anger ...
Ultimately, Griff decides to leave the village and all the grief it has
brought him behind himself to head for California and become a farmer ...
and proud Jessica shows true greatness when she goes after him to
One of the top-Westerns of all time: It's full of tension,
suspense atmosphere, interesting characters, unusual plottwists - and
enough action to keep everyone happy nevertheless. And director Samuel
Fuller once again proves his exceptional skills to turn what starts out as
nothing more than an ordinary genre film into something very special,
thanks not at least to his trademark directorial style full of close ups
and rapid cuts, years before this was popularized by the Spaghetti
Recommended, and not only to Western fans.