Broken Lance is the story of a family empire in the guise of a Western. The plot is derived from King Lear, though its more direct precursor is the film noir classic House of Strangers (1949), a similarly themed film also written by Philip Yordan. Though Yordan won an Oscar for Original Story for Lance, much of the credit for the tightly constructed film should go to screenwriter Richard Murphy, who keeps the film's focus on character and brisk pacing. The film is notable for a pro-environment subplot (copper-mine pollution) years before such themes became fashionable. The performances are top-notch -- Spencer Tracy and Katy Jurado in particular -- and the film is well-cast with reliable character actors in the supporting roles.