Will Penny is a mature cowboy -50 years old as he declares to Joan Hackett should be much for so physical hard work in the late nineteenth century- Furthermore he has passed all his life alone, has learned all in taverns, knows only the fragile friendship of another few cattlemen and only treats with prostitutes when he can.
And from all that comes the heart of this magnificent film. Penny, a brave man, and potentially even a good father, as he teaches well and wins the confidence of the little child, is coward when he has the opportunity to marry with the only woman he has loved in his full life.
Perhaps truly he feels too old and unable to abandon his erratic existence, perhaps is the custom of living alone so long time, he rejects that opportunity. Charlton Heston and all actors are superb here excepting perhaps the excessive fool preacher. A rare, exceptional western and excellent film, impossible to think in the world of special effects of today