Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This laid-back western manages to deliver a full quota of action, an agreeable dash of sentiment, and quite a few three-dimensional characterizations. Van Heflin plays Luke Fargo, a Civil War veteran who returns to his Southern homeland to find his house destroyed, his crops burned out, and the local town under the thumb of "white trash" Vancey Huggins (Raymond Burr). In addition, Fargo is on the outs with the townsfolk because he fought for the Union instead of the Confederacy. Having grown weary of death and killing, Fargo hopes to start life anew as a minister, and to that end intends to rebuild the town's only church. Complicating matters is the presence of unkempt, hoydenish teenager Lissy (Joanne Woodward, in her film debut). Though Fargo's feelings for Lissy are basically paternal, the townsfolk, stirred up by Huggins, suspect the worst and prepare to drive the novice minister out of town. A happy--or at least satisfying--ending is reached through a series of logical events not often seen in "formula" westerns.
religion, bad-guy-turns-good, bishop, child, church, love, mountains, orphan, past, peace, prostitute/prostitution, reconstruction, reform [improve], rurality, south, townspeople, wild [undomesticated]