I'm not an apologist but Hayden's accent didn't bother me because of his presense, the fact that he nailed the character and the atmosphere of the film worked. Underrated western with unusually rich characterization for that genre in that era.
This is a kind of baroque pre - spaghetti western save the fact that it was shot in the U.S.A. and directed by a genuine American native. From the frenzied opening credits showing backwards the main scenes of the film to the final duel between a black-robed iron-handed (in the literal sense of the term) gunfighter and a Swedish whale hunter armed with a gig, this film is a masterpiece. Ja.
Some critics apparently disregard this movie as a gimmicky, form over content exercise. I would pick this over High Noon any day. A simple story spiced with some weird elements is told in an airy, abstract way. Lewis gives us space to breathe so we can appreciate his tasty style from a comfortable distance. Loved every minute of it.
The things holding me back from loving this were the trumpet theme that only became more irritating... and the incessant direct address to the villain "JOHNNY, you're getting old... JOHNNY, you can't do this."... but yeah this is still pretty great.
Strong revenge western with more depth than might usually be associated with other similar films of this type. Sterling Hayden is brooding and melancholic in the claustrophibic town, going after his quarry in an absolutely unique way. Its well paced structure allows time for reflection and adds a sence of abstraction to the whole atmosphere. Up there with 'High Noon', if not better.