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…
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Complete waste of Oliver Reed's talent (nothing new there). Hackman was amazing as the animalistic, sadistic bad guy, but Candice Bergen was a disappointment here, and as the central character, it's inexcusable that she was given the least interesting part dialogue-wise. She spends most of the film trying to avoid getting raped. Some interesting ideas, but a very badly executed film, which ultimately goes nowhere.
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.