Westerns aren't know for stages of gray. In this one there are good bad guys, neutral bad guys, and bad bad guys. You have to watch out for people who have 'Gold Fever'. And the rapey men. Baxter is a bit too neutral on the rapey stuff. She just wants Peck to smell clean when he grabs her. Casting Widmark was smart, because he really could play bad bad. Peck just can't be totally bad. It's why we admire him.
Wellman dramatizes ideas of sexual politics, despair, and democracy with all the austerity and élan of a paradox, a terror. Unfortunately the menace--perhaps greatness--of the film is defused by an underwhelming epilogue that reeks of studio satisfaction.
The cast is great, well-directed by Wellman, and the camera work is top notch in an otherwise moderately compelling but predictable story by Lamar Trotti. The only real problem I had with the movie was it looked like in one scene Peck's character really forces himself on Baxter, leading to a creepy wise crack. and yet after that she still had feelings for him. I found that off-putting. Other than that, fine film.