Best of the Badmen (1951)

Best of the Badmen (1951), directed by William D. Russell.

Interesting setup for a western: after the end of the Civil War, cavalry major Robert Ryan arranges the surrender of a gang of die hard bushwhackers (with Bruce Cabot and Walter Brennan), including (of course) the James and Younger brothers. His sensible idea is to give them the Oath and let them go, but this crosses some carpetbaggers (Robert Preston and Barton MacLane) who would rather have the bounty money.

Ryan is sentenced to hang on a trumped up murder charge. Claire Trevor springs him from jail (why? it's complicated) but then he is an outlaw also.

After that it is more of a standard action/romance western but they pack a lot into 83 minutes. Definitely "classic" rather than "modern" tone. Hard charging score by Paul Sawtell

Warner Archive title, available for rent from ClassicFlix. The Technicolor has not entirely faded out yet, but the image is very soft in spots.