Day of the Outlaw (1959)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Western  |   Release Date - Jul 1, 1959 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Fred Beldin

One-eyed director André de Toth helmed this unique low-budget Western filled with fine performances and a view of pioneer life that isn't as idealized as other films of its day. Rather than a sun-baked prairie, de Toth gives us a truly bleak Wyoming winter. Instead of a quaint frontier town, the few buildings are simple, ramshackle shelters surrounded by a mix of dirt and snow. This tiny community of 20 souls isn't too small to escape trouble between local farmers and the lone cattle rancher over barbed wire fences, but these problems become moot when a band of rogue cavalrymen take over the town. Robert Ryan is great as the bitter, conflicted rancher Blaise Starrett, a roughneck who fought to clean up the territory for settlers and is ostracized for his troubles. Both he and dying cavalry officer Burl Ives are dark heroes who set aside their contempt for one last stab at salvation. Day of the Outlaw relies less on gunplay than the tension between kidnappers and their quarry, and the final showdown is between man and the elements rather than a shootout in the streets.