In this gritty Western, Kirk Douglas (who also directs) plays a federal marshal with high political aspirations — and capturing a notorious bandit (Bruce Dern) is just the high-profile boost he’s looking for. But all bets are off when hunter becomes hostage in this cautionary tale with real-time parallels to the Watergate scandal that was unfolding at the time the film was released.
This gritty western boasts a solid cast and the beginning and ending of the story has its action-packed and tense moments, although the picture drags a bit in the middle with its political emphasis. Kirk Douglas plays Marshall Howard Nightingale, a man who reaches a zenith of popularity when he captures the notorious Jack Strawhorn (played cunningly by Bruce Dern).
The viewer keeps getting the uneasy feeling that the prisoner is going to escape and if he does, the humiliation of the Marshall will be his main goal. Nightingale makes hollow promises to his posse after it appears he will be moving up in the political ranks to become a state senator. When trouble rises, the posse is the only group that can help the endangered Marshall. But will they? This film is peppered with strong language and includes some violent moments, and we are unable to award our Dove Seal to the movie as a family-friendly film.