2.5, most likely. Fuller's debut is more wacky than you'd expect. Thanks to some subdued interiors and a lingering sense of the unsaid, it feels much more like a melodrama than you'd expect. The "unsaid" here being an intensely homoerotic relationship to which Fuller applies a keen Freudian dreamwork, mixes in an archetype, and calls it a day. He should be proud, but I can't pretend it's the most watchable thing.
What are the ramifications of compromising one's moral framework? Is redemption possible when the boundaries of moral consciousness have been trespassed? These questions haunt Fuller's first feature, but in a manner that is altogether astounding. Public opinion--the press, one's milieu--is intricately intertwined in these matters. Elongated gestures & physiognomic changes: Robert Ford failing to transcend the void.
Underrated piece of both storytelling and filming. As a voyage through one's unfolding regret, the plot is an elaborate tragedy, cleverly flirting with western genre. As for directing, shooting reenactment scene alone puts it above the contemporary stuff. Especially those made out of peanuts for budget.
Great idea, poorly executed. The direction of film was stilted and each scene seemed forced and overacted. Although, the film represented a romantic resemblance of the west, the viewer is constantly bombarded with "western" cliches and scenes that just last too long to get the point across. A fun movie but doesn't hold up as a whole.
Sam Fuller's feature directorial debut is as much a Freudian psych-drama as it is a B-movie western. The simplistic plot is none-too-subtle and melodramatic - but the broad strokes run deep. Strong performances with undeniable suspense and tension. Fuller would go on to make better films, but his trademark hard-hitting style is in full form in this early effort.
In it's setting, it's a Western--but by every real measure, it's a simple melodrama. In other words, it's what used to be called a "woman's picture," but one which is dressed in a man's clothes. It's a pretty savvy bit of marketing, that. Not a great movie, but by no means a bad one.