Yesterday I watched Glenn Ford in a Western with Barbara Stanwyck, well known for roles as wicked ladies. In the film The Violent Men she is married to Edward G Robinson as the big valley Cattle rancher who gained power by force twenty years previously, losing the full use of both legs as a consequence. As a former Union officer Ford has purchased land and built a ranch in the valley with other settlers much to the anger of Wilkisons but agrees to sell when his fiancée wishes to move away from the conflict. However Stanwyck has called in her husband’s brother with whom she had had an affair but chose the other brother because he owned the property. The brother, Cole, has a Spanish/ Mexican woman in the local town where the Sheriff and other notables accept the authority of the Wikisons. The situation changes when one of Cole’s hired men kills one of Ford’s ranch hands. He refuses to leave or sell the ranch and this loses him his fiancée. He clever persuades the rest of the ranch hands to return home while he deals with the man who killed their colleague in a fair gun fight.
Realising that Cole will use his force to attack him at night he uses his army knowledge and tactical skills to take his men away and mounts a trap in a canyon which he believes the killers will use on their way back as the quickest route after setting fire to his ranch. This enables him to kill and injure a substantial number of the hired men with just cause because they have attacked and burned down his home.
When he launches a successful attack on Wilkison’s house Stanwyck refuses to assist her husband down stairs and leaves him to die, going to Cole who abandons his woman for her on the promise of having control of the Valley after he has cleared out all the other settlers persuading the local lawman that they were all responsible for the attack on the Wilkison property and the death of her husband.
In fact he did not die and is rescued by his daughter from a first marriage. They go into hiding and she persuades Ford to stop the forthcoming battle between the ranchers and the men now hired by the law man who descend on Wilkison’s ranch to further protect and use as a base to clear the valley. Father and daughter then go with Ford and demand the break up of the posse and that they leave the property. This leaves Ford to fight Cole who he kills. Stanwyck attempts to escape but his killed by Cole‘s. Woman.
Wilkison attempts to establish peace by sending his daughter to ask Ford to become estate manager and after first saying he has his own spread to run, he changes his mind attracted to the daughter which is mutual and wryly commenting that her father said he would get hold of Ford’s land one way or the other.