Rawhide (1951)

Rawhide (1951), directed by Henry Hathaway.

Tyrone Power and Susan Hayward are held prisoner at a stagecoach stop by a gang planning to hijack a gold shipment.

Heroism in hostage situations is difficult because of the consequences to others, as in Key Largo (1948) or The Desperate Hours (1955), all from the same few years. In this case it is even worse because one of the prisoners is a baby girl.

Gang leader Hugh Marlowe is smart enough and tough enough for the job, but he discovers the problem with crime as a profession: it's the people you have to deal with. He has psycho killer Jack Elam and two dim, nervous bruisers. Says one (an unrecognizable Dean Jagger), ruefully and very seriously to the infant child: "When you grow up, don't you ever ever steal a horse."

A thriller that could have been done in other settings, it works well as a western. Fine location shooting and realistic look.

Jack Elam shoots at the little girl -- that's evil! The actor had a blind eye and he used the affliction to good advantage: it gave him a deranged look.

In one scene the girl, just a toddler, wanders among the horses (or mules?). I don't think I would have allowed that; horses can be pretty dangerous.