I finally scratched this little talked about Lee Van Cleef western off my 'To See' list and I was happy to find it to be a damned good film. I'm surprised this movie isn't better known for the cast if for nothing else. The great Warren Oates plays the villainous ex-Confederate Army soldier Remy who has kept his band of violent cutthroats together after the war ended. With the help of expatriate Frenchman Marquette (Kerwin Matthews - very good here) he has arranged to rob the Union Army of thirty cases of repeating rifles that he plans to use to cement his power over an area of Mexico. The brutal robbery goes perfectly but the plan to cross the
Grande using Van Cleef's ferryboat goes wrong setting
up a standoff that puts the two men at odds and in stalemate.
Forrest Tucker also has a great role as an amusing mountain man who helps Van Cleef and the people he is protecting from Remy's murderous wraith. And I forgot to mention a solid performance from Mariette Hartley in a small role as the wife of a hostage. The deal she strikes with Van Cleef to orchestrate her husband's rescue paints both characters in shades of gray that impressed me. This isn't a cookie cutter western and is well worth seeking out.