John Russell (Paul Newman), a white man raised by a band of Arizona Apaches, is forced to confront the society he despises when he sells the boarding house his father has left him. While leaving town by stagecoach, several bigoted passengers insist he ride outside with the driver (Martin Balsam). But when outlaws leave them all stranded in the desert, Russell may be their only hope for survival! Diane Cilento, Frederic March, Richard Boone and Barbara Rush co-star in this action-packed Western classic.
Paul Newman is the blue-eyed "savage," a white man raised by the Indians who rejects so-called civilized society for his spiritual family, in Elmore Leonard's take on Stagecoach
. It's not exactly Grand Hotel
on wheels. The hypocrites, crooks, and racists Newman travels with cast him out of their polite company in the coach, then turn to him for salvation when outlaws hold up the stage and hunt them through the desert. It's hard to "like" Newman's cold, hard survivor, but you can't help but respect his cunning and his unsentimental directness. Fredric March is sweaty with corruption as a crooked Indian agent, and Richard Boone smiles his deadly charm as a lusty bad man. While this 1966 Western wears its social politics on its dusty sleeves, director Martin Ritt tempers the revisionist moral of the tale with a stripped-down ruthlessness befitting the rugged, unforgiving landscape. --Sean Axmaker