After many years of being vastly overrated, this liberal “adult” western of 1952 may be underrated in some quarters today. While the film angered Howard Hawks into making one of his masterpieces (Rio Bravo) as a kind of rebuttal, it got smothered in Oscars; still, it's not entirely devoid of virtues. Gary Cooper is a sheriff who's about to retire (so he can marry Grace Kelly) but has to face a final gunfight alone when all of the townspeople refuse to help him. Carl Foreman wrote the script and planned to direct until the Hollywood blacklist made this impossible; Fred Zinnemann took over and did a fairly good job of milking suspense out of the situation—the film's 84 minutes are meant to correspond to the actual time in which the plot unfolds—with his usual somewhat mechanical polish. Some of the results ring false, but the memorable theme song and some equally memorable character acting (by Thomas Mitchell and Lon Chaney Jr. more than Lloyd Bridges and Katy Jurado) help things along.
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Writer: John Cunningham and Carl Foreman
Producer: Stanley Kramer
Cast: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Katy Jurado, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges, Otto Kruger, Lon Chaney, Harry Morgan, Lee Van Cleef, Robert Wilke and Sheb Wooley