As wagon trains make their way to the gold country of the Black Hills in the 1870s, three outlaws (Santschi, Campeau, MacDonald) take pity on Lee (Borden), a young woman who has just lost her father. Arriving in the dusty town of Custer, the bandits conspire to find Lee a husband and set their sights on cowboy Dan O’Malley (O’Brien). Meanwhile the evil sheriff Layne Hunter (Tellegen) plots villainy as the town prepares for the land grab of 1877.
Ford’s name is synonymous with the western genre, and this early opus shows why. Grand-scale set pieces on the vast plains (shot in Wyoming), tense gunfights and exhilarating wagon rushes pepper Ford’s last silent western, giving today’s special effects a run for their money. It also contains touches of humor and plenty of emotional drama as the titular scoundrels find redemption in a final shoot-out. In this case, “Bad” is a damned sight better than good!