At the end of a decade in which some of the finest examples of the genre were made, De Toth shot this bleak western classic which deserves wider recognition. Big and burly Ives dominates scenes as a mortally wounded fugitive who takes over a snowbound town with his thirsty, sex-starved colleagues only to founder at the hands of a determined Ryan. A colossal film that plays out in three acts of increasing brilliance..
Burl Ives plays a well-written character and performs it wonderfully. The film has some un-usual for the time long takes, and some awesome long pans, particularly the Dance scene which Bertrand Tavernier has pointed out before (see "Fragments" by de Toth, preface). I really enjoyed the last 12 minutes-briliant b&W cinematography in the snow-with a killer soundtrack!My appreciation of de Toth just keeps growing.
Exemplary for a B movie director's ability to marry economic storytelling with visual poetry to the utmost efficiency. Even the obvious difference in the lighting quality between interior staging and photography in the open adds to its surreal stylization. All in all a little miracle in mise-en-scène.
Harsh inversion of High Noon. Ascends into a blinding wilderness with its gunslinger twilight tropes before dissolving and pulling back to an unsatisfying conclusion, but not before issuing the cry of the individual against history in a way that echoes in Peckinpah and resonates in the hallucinatory angst of Corbucci's Il Grande Silenzio. The life of a genre must pass and when it passes the end must take place.
In my opinion, the less renowned of the revolutionary westerns, a masterpiece that foretells the spaghetti wave and Clint Eastwood's crepuscular work. This is a Greek tragedy in black & white and in the snow, regulated by by Alexandre Courage's great musical score. Indispensable.