In order to free his best friend Paul Bondi from jail, cowboy Jack Burns gets himself imprisoned only to find out that Bondi does not want to escape. Thus Burns breaks out on his own and is afterwards being chased in the mountains by sheriff Johnson with a helicopter and jeeps.
User Reviews: There are many things weighing in favor of this film: David Miller’s direction is assured, honest, competent, and perceptive; Douglas, Matthau and Rowlands all post wonderful performances; photography is superlative; action sequences are of the highest order; and the script, especially the dialogue, by Donald Trumbo, is very good.
Unfortunately, it is built upon a questionable premise. Even the most idealistic of souls has to know that you do not commit crimes to be taken into jail to release your brother, but first you ask him if he is willing to go along with that project. Fortunately, Douglas’ brother is much wiser than he and refuses to break out of jail.
Freedom-loving, idealistic Douglas has some strange quirks, not to mention a questionable military service record that includes a Purple Heart, and good civilian deeds besides beating up officers of the law. For somebody who apparently loves freedom so dearly, it is really strange that he has no idea how prison limits your freedom, especially because he had been in detention during his military service.
The film gathers momentum when Douglas is on the run and police after him, but you know that things are not going to go well. Best single aspect in the whole movie: Douglas’ love for his mare, Whisky. Plaudits for the trainers who managed to get the animal to perform so convincingly in such a difficult environment, both on the mountains and in the streets.
I liked Matthau’s understated performance and the way his character understands Douglas’ motivations, but the law, even in 1962, did not allow cop offenders to get off so easy. Well deserved 7/10, a more credible premise would easily raise it to 9/10.