THE STORY: An injured drifter, Glenn Ford as Jubal Troop, is rescued by ranch-owner Earnest Borgnine, who ultimately promotes him to foreman of his ranch. This stirs up the envy of ranch-hand Rod Steiger ("Pinky") and the desire of Borgnine's young sexpot/discontent wife Valerie French. The latter leads to even more hostility on Steiger's part because he used to enjoy the adulterous attentions of French until Ford came along.
Add to this mix a group of trespassing Mennonites (or perhaps Quakers) who have in their company Felicia Farr, a godly woman that attracts Ford's romantic interests, and Charles Bronson, another drifter who befriends Ford.
WHAT WORKS: For the first hour and ten minutes or so "Jubal" is captivating cinema of the highest order. Borgnine is simpleminded & naive but likable and full of mirth. Valerie French is fully clothed at all times, yet somehow oozes sexuality with every simple glance or word (proving that sexiness involves way more than merely showing skin). Rod Steiger is perfect as the villainous Southerner-turned-Westerner "Pinky." Felicia Farr is an interesting addition to the story: her godly purity attracts Ford just as much as French's adulterous tactics turn him off.
As for the young Charles Bronson, how can you go wrong? And, lastly, Glenn Ford is perfect as the tragedy-laden drifter.
A big bonus is that the film was shot on location with the mighty Grand Tetons as a backdrop for the entire story. These magnificent Wyoming mountains are nothing short of breathtaking!
WHAT DOESN'T WORK: A little after the hour mark a major character buys the farm, resulting in the last half-hour tying up loose ends and somehow losing the yarn's ultra-captivating charm. I'm not saying the ending is bad, not at all, just that it's mediocre compared to the rest of the film. This is the only reason the flick rates 4-Stars instead of 5-Stars in my mind.
Also, although the opening credits score is understandably dated, the rest of the film is not.
CONCLUSION: Make no mistake, "Jubal" is a powerful psychological Western; there's thankfully no Disney-like unrealistic vibe anywhere to be found. It expertly touches on issues of friendship, envy, jealousy, competition, lust, hate, love, and hope. In light of this, I'm genuinely surprised at how underrated "Jubal" is in the Western genre.
Let me add that Jubal is a man of fascinatingly noble character: he amazingly resists the skilled sexual advances of the luscious Valerie French. Kinda reminds me of Joseph and Potiphar's wife.
"Jubal" is a MUST for every person's Western film library.