The powerhouse combination of star James Stewart and director Anthony Mann score another cinematic bullseye in The Naked Spur. Stewart plays a taciturn frontiersman who loses his home while he's off fighting the Civil War. To raise enough money for a new grubstake, Stewart becomes a bounty hunter in Colorado territory. His first quarry is fugitive, killer Robert Ryan. Stewart's efforts to bring in Ryan and collect the reward are compromised by the presence of Ryan's loyal girl friend Janet Leigh and Stewart's two disreputable sidekicks, wily prospector Millard Mitchell and disgraced Union-officer Ralph Meeker. There's plenty of "cat and mouse" byplay between Stewart and Ryan before the brutal climax; the drama is intensified by the fact that both men are on the outer rim of total insanity. The Oscar-nominated screenplay for The Naked Spur was cowritten by Sam Rolfe, who was later one of the creative forces responsible for the similarly no-nonsense TV western series Have Gun, Will Travel.
by Hal Erickson synopsis