Gary Cooper, Richard Widmark and Cameron Mitchell portray three somewhat disreputable 19th-century soldiers of fortune, en route to California to prospect for gold. Stopping over in a tiny Mexican village, the three men are hired by Susan Hayward to rescue her husband, who is trapped in a gold mine in hostile Indian territory. The threesome agree to the expedition, their interest piqued by the possibility of picking up some gold themselves. During the harrowing journey, the party's already frayed nerves are aggravated when the men become attracted to Hayward. The group arrives at the mine's location--the Garden of Evil, so named because the Indians regard it as the domain of evil spirits. During the escape, Hayward's husband (Hugh Marlowe) is killed by the Indians, as is Mitchell. Cooper and Widmark play cards to decide who will take Hayward to safety and who will cover them while they flee. Cooper wins--but later discovers that Widmark had cheated in order to sacrifice himself. Garden of Evil takes too long to get to its climax, but the Cinemascope photography and Bernard Herrmann's rich musical score make the wait worthwhile.
by Hal Erickson synopsis