There's nothing wrong with Three Violent People that a good script and a more appropriate cast wouldn't have cured. The idea for the movie, about men contending for land, power, and women in post-Civil War Texas, isn't bad, but James Edward Grant's script is a mess, unable to decide whether this is a serious costume drama or a romantic romp, or both, and the changes in tone -- especially in the first third of the movie -- are awkward and off-putting. The presence of Elaine Stritch as a charmingly shameless and venal woman of pleasure is the main saving grace of those early scenes. The grimness of the movie's second half also doesn't fit with the brightness of the color photography -- the movie looks too cheerful. And while Charlton Heston scowls convincingly as the proud, taciturn hero, he has a much harder time with the light-hearted moments in the script. The overall result is an uneven movie that's more notable for what it tries to be than for what it is, despite a very colorful cast.
by Bruce Eder review