The subject and the story are commendable. A revisionist Western. Racism against the native Indians is highlighted. So are the negative traits of the white men who made money out of the subjugation of the the native Indians. Even the attitudes towards Mexicans are well etched. The film is all about values and humanism and not about killing. The opening sequence of the black stallion leading wild horses is amazing.
One of Ritt's 5 best films I'd say. Falls just short of classics like Hud and Long Hot Summer. Newman approaches the roll with a complex mixture of bitterness, hate, and in the end, compassion. Another striking performance in his storied career. Fine supporting cast also. One of the last great westerns from the classic era. 4.5 stars
Although not being the best novel written by Elmore Leonard (the cliché of the silent Indien - again-), the movie, thanks to a splendid cast, is acceptable : Newman and Cilento, for sure, but particularly Richard Boone as the most frightening brute ever seen in a western.