The naive cowboy Tod Lohman accidentally kills the son of the powerful land baron Hunter Boyd. Tod runs for his life, pursued by the dead man’s vengeful brothers. Tod shelters on the ranch of Amos Bradley and he falls in love with his daughter Juanita. However, Tod is concerned that he’ll eventually have to leave when his pursuers catch up with him.
Visually stunning in CinemaScope. Henry Hathaway (“Kiss of Death”/”The Sons of Katie Elder”/”Call Northside 777”) capably directs this quality Western. The literate parable-like script by Wendell Mayes and Robert Buckner is based on the book The Hell-Bent Kid by Charles O. Locke. The ending is meaningful and well-done, though Hollywood changed the book’s tragic ending to a happy one. In the final vendetta confrontation scene between the victim’s father and the accused, it suggests the power there is in forgiveness.
Tod Lohman (Don Murray) is a naive ranch-hand cowboy, who by accident murders one of the sons of the powerful rancher Hunter Boyd (R. G. Armstrong) and in a state of panic goes on the run from the vengeful father and his other sons. Tom Boyd (Dennis Hopper) is the posse leader. Amos Bradley (Chill Wills) is the kindly rancher sympathetic to Tod, who gives him shelter. Juanita Bradley (Diane Varsi) is the tomboy daughter of Amos, who falls in love with Tod.
— Dennis Schwartz (Ozus’ World Movie Reviews).