This is a darn good movie that could have been great.
Robert Ryan stars as Blaise Starrett, a tough cattleman at odds with settlers in the gloomy western town of Bitters, Wyoming. His feud with local farmer Hal Crane (Alan Marshall) is about to erupt with blood. Crane's wife Helen (Tina Louise), who was once linked to Starrett, begs him not to kill her husband. Tina is willing to renew her relationship with Starrett if he leaves Crane alone.
Just as things are about to explode, Captain Jack Bruhn (Burl Ives) and his violent gang of outlaws ride into town, pursued by the law after robbing a bank. Ives is wounded and dying but is determined to hold rein on his gang as they hold the entire town hostage. Starrett must find a way to save the town and to redeem himself.
Day of the Outlaw is a dark and powerful movie. Both Starrett and Bruhn are complicated and conflicted characters, brilliantly brought to life by Ryan and Ives. With a solid script by Philip Yordan (The Naked Jungle, Johnny Guitar, El Cid) based on the Lee E. Wells novel and amazing cinematography by Russell Harlan (To Kill a Mockingbird, Run Silent Run Deep, Rio Bravo) director Andre de Toth created a near classic film. The budget, however, was very low and de Toth was bringing some personal problems to the set. Both snow storms and Ryan coming down with pneumonia delayed filming, and de Toth -- a perfectionist -- had the town he built for filming torn down and replaced because it ws facing in the wrong direction. De Toth also demanded some scenes be re-shot from interior to exterior locations. As the production ran out of money, bags were packed and it was back to Hollywood. Philip Yordan said the film had the best script he had ever written but the problems with filming made this one a "what might have been."
Also in the top-notch cast were David Nelson, Nehemiah Persoff, Jack Lambert, Frank Dekova, Elisha Cook, Dabbs Greer, Helen Westcott, and William Schallert.