The rich and ruthless rancher Brandt Ruger keeps his beautiful young wife Melissa like a part of his property, subdued to his will. But one day she’s kidnapped by the famous outlaw Frank Calder – just to teach him reading, so he tells her. Calder doesn’t know or care who’s wife she is. He takes care of her well, and eventually Melissa falls in love with him. But Ruger feels humiliated. Full of hate, he sets out to kill him – and Melissa too, if necessary. Together with his friends and the newest technology in guns, which carry 800 yards, he initiates a battle on Calder and his gang. –IMDb
Not the best western I've ever seen,but I'm pretty sure it's the bleakest. The opening scene, which juxtaposes Oliver Reed's outlaw slaughtering a cow with Gene Hackman's land baron raping his wife(Candice Bergen), sets the tone. These three characters are soon trapped in a cycle of bad decisions and mutual self-destruction--initiated, ironically enough given what follows, by Reed's desire to simply learn to read.