A damned good western. I’ve now watched six Anthony Mann films from the 1950’s, and all six have been terrific. Further exploration is needed. Here we’ve got guilty ex-criminal James Stewart leading a group of settlers through increasingly hostile territory. Stewart meets kindred spirit Cole (Rancho Notorious star Arthur Kennedy) and they deal with arrow-shooting natives early on… rest of the hostility comes from white men in a gold rush who’d like to murder the settlers and/or steal their supplies, led by a mutinous Cole.
The group stops in Portland (which looks different these days) to buy supplies, drops off the arrow-wounded Laurie (Julie Adams) to recover. She seemed fond of Cole earlier, and when Stewart returns to Portland months later to find out why their supplies haven’t arrived, she’s shacking up with gambler Rock Hudson. Stewart causes trouble and they have to make a quick escape on a steamboat run by Chubby Johnson and Stepin Fetchit. Eventually Stewart has proven himself again and again, earning the trust of wagon train leader Jay Flippen and the love of his daughter Laurie (Rock barely seems to notice she’s gone, making eyes at her younger sister).