I can't believe it took me so long to watch this. A fine movie with outstanding performances from Randolph Scott and Lee Marvin.
Randolph Scott plays Ben Stride, on the hunt for the gang that knocked over the Wells Fargo office in Silver Springs and murdered his wife. Along the way, his mission is compromised when he reluctantly teams up with John and Annie Greer, a greenhorn couple trying ineptly to drive a wagon to California. Adding even more complications: bad guy Bill Masters (Lee Marvin) and his henchman, Clete, invite themselves along for the ride as well.
Randolph Scott plays Stride wonderfully well; he's a man of few words, and every one of those words means something. He's stoic, but Scott allows us to discover that he (a) is wracked by guilt over the death of his wife, (b) views the hapless John Greer with sympathy but little respect, and (c) has growing feelings for Annie.
Lee Marvin, on the other hand… has anyone, before or since, been able to do a smooth-talking menacing villain better than Lee Marvin? His role here is the flip side of Stride's: a bad guy who knows he's a bad guy. He and Stride know they're irretrievably on opposite sides, but each views the other with respect. (Significantly, he addresses Stride as "Sheriff", even though Stride no longer wears the badge.)
After I watched this, I said to myself: I bet Robert B. Parker is a Randolph Scott fan. One quick Google search later: yup.