Not bad but not original, this film contains good performances, a great cast and awesome scenery. Directed by action/noir auteur Raoul (Pursued, High Sierra, Backgound to Danger) Walsh, this one is never quite dull, but never quite grabs the viewer by the collar and shakes, either.
The best part about it is the cast: Virginia (White Heat, The Flame and the Arrow) Mayo, one of the original tough yet classy, intoxicatingly beautiful dames of the 40's and 50's; Walter (Rio Bravo, The Westerner, To Have and Have Not, Support Your Local Sheriff) Brennan, perhaps the greatest character actor in Hollywood history; Kirk (Out of the Past, Man Without a Star, The War Wagon, Paths of Glory, Lonely Are The Brave) Douglas, he of the intense eyes, strong jaw and deeply-cleft chin; Cult actor John (Sands of Iwo Jima, Fort Apache, Revenge of the Creature, Brain From Planet Arous) Agar, in a western like he loved, rather than the sci-fi/horror he kept finding himself in; and finally Morris (a jillion 50's genre flicks) Ankrum.
Brennan, whose cattle were being stolen, may have shot the rustler's son. Marshall Douglas saves Brennan from being lynched by the rustlers, in order to take him to trial. Douglas sets out across the desert with his prisoner and his prisoner's daughter, Mayo, in tow. A psychological battle ensues, and they of course, look for any means to escape. Nature's fury is at odds with them in their travels across the desert. They are low on water. They are pursued by the vengeful rustlers. And Douglas knows he can't afford to fall asleep for even a second. Things look bleak for our hero...
The movie is able to overcome some talkiness through some good dialogue and generally tense cleverness, but it descends into anti-climactic courtroom generica, which feels as though it was tacked on from some other movie. Great Divide, indeed.
Solid enough when it sticks to its guns, though, and worth at least one viewing.
See also: The flicks mentioned above; Naked Spur; 3:10 to Yuma; or, for a similarly inappropriate ending (if it helps you understand what I mean here), see Virginia City.