Sam Peckinpah's breakthrough film follows aging ex-Marshal Steve Judd (McCrea) on a perilous assignment to transport a large quantity of gold from the mine to the bank. He brings along old comrade Gil Westrum (Scott) and Westrum's young sidekick Heck (Ron Starr). En-route, the group encounters a fundamentalist widower and his pretty daughter Elsa (Hartley), and Elsa latches onto the cowboys to escape her strict father. Now Judd must deal with bandits and a young woman's safety as he sees his mission through.
This crisp, flavorful entry benefits from its poignant premise of two tired, outmoded cowboys struggling to survive in a world they barely recognize (and that barely recognizes them). Veterans McCrea and Scott play off each other beautifully, and Hartley is radiant in her debut role. Stunningly photographed on location, this western has more on its mind than shoot-outs. An early Peckinpah peak.