A tale of the Old West that concentrates on character and the interaction between individuals. Fonda plays the bounty hunter, also a former sheriff, who rides into town, a body lying over his horse, to collect a reward. The representative of law in town is young Perkins, a tenderfoot who
has yet to learn his job. After Fonda gets Perkins out of one jam after another, the two strike up a friendship, the elder man acting as teacher and advisor to the sheriff until he is able to muster the confidence needed for his job. The reason Fonda quit his job of sheriff was the apathy he found
among the people of the town he protected. Perkins shares this frustration, an emotion that links the pair. Chief among their adversaries is Brand, who is quick with a gun and takes the law into his own hands when a posse is formed to hunt down two murderers. It is Perkins' overcoming of Brand
that solidifies his position as sheriff. This was a perfect role for the aloof Fonda. From his initial ride into town, carrying the dead body on his horse--the people flocking into the street to stare--he ignores the townsfolk as a loner is meant to do, a man embittered by experience but doing
what is necessary to carry on honorably. Oscar nominated for Best Screenplay.
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