Chuck Connors in Ride Beyond Vengeance (1966)

There Will be Reprisals

A census taker (James MacArthur) heads to Coldiron, Texas to do his job and inquires why the place is known as the site of the reprisal. It all started with Jonas Trapp (Chuck Connors) who fell for the attractive Jessie (Kathryn Hays) who despite coming from wealth married the less refined Jonas, making out she was pregnant to her aunt in order to get permission. But after a while living off of his wife's family fortune gets to Jonas and he just ups and leaves, clearing off to make his fortune hunting buffalo. Eleven long years later and now a wealthy man he decides to make his way home only to be jumped, robbed and left for dead by Brooks Durham (Michael Rennie) and his pals. Fortunately for Jonas a farmer finds him and nurses him back to health but now Jonas is filled with anger and a need for revenge which leads to trouble when on returning to Coldiron he learns that Jessie and Brooks are now engaged as she had given up on Jonas being alive.

One of the things you will discover if you become interested in watching old westerns is that many of the opinions which you can find online will have been written by those who have fond memories of watching the western when it was released. What you don't find so often is the variety of opinions and that can leave you watching a movie and wondering what you missed if you don't rate it so highly. This could be the case if you were to go looking for reviews of "Ride Beyond Vengeance" as most of the opinions were clearly written by those who loved the movie but you don't get the opposing view. Now whilst I am not going to tell you that "Ride Beyond Vengeance" is a bad movie it is one which never quite lives up to its ambitions.

Kathryn Hays in Ride Beyond Vengeance (1966)

And it has to be said that "Ride Beyond Vengeance" is ambitious with this storyline which on the simplest level focuses on Jonas seeking revenge on the three men who attacked him with a hot brand, stole his fortune and left him for dead. But there are more layers to this with each of the characters involved having subplots as such the finely dressed Johnsy is carrying on with a married woman who he is trying to persuade to empty her husbands account and there is a question over who has the money that was stolen from Jonas. But whilst entertaining with a strong cast it never feels like it is anything more than ideas which you will have seen in other 60s westerns such as the branding side of the story or that Jonas' wife is now engaged to one of the men behind his attack.

What I will say is that "Ride Beyond Vengeance" certainly features a strong performance from Chuck Connors and so far the finest performance of his I have come across. But it is a case that the character of Jonas doesn't have a lot of depth but Connors does bring out the relentless desire for revenge. In fairness Claude Akins is also entertaining as he gets drunk and converses with an invisible friend whilst Kathryn Hays plays the love interest nicely but perfectly shows that her character is just a western cliche.

What this all boils down to is that "Ride Beyond Vengeance" ends up an entertaining 60s western with a strong cast and also a strong look. But it is one of those movies where the characters and story elements feel cliche and in many ways that lets it down or at least prevents it from becoming a great western.