Anthony Mann was known for his great psychological westerns--thanks to him, and the two writers who turned in the script, this film is especially riveting. The film tightens the screw upon five characters until the pressure becomes unbearable, and part of what makes the film excellent lies in the way it is concerned with how people interact in close quarters; the way they bond through examining what they owe each other and how they respond to each other's close proximity. If the characters--apart from Stewart's--remain two dimensional, the manner in which they interact is very much drawn from the way real people would. Janet Leigh cannot redeem her character's more hysterical moments but otherwise shows sensitivity in her part--you can detect her thoughts move. Meeker is okay, and Robert Ryan is problematic--he was a highly intelligent actor and here decides to play the outlaw part jovially. Sadly he winds up sounding forced--when less jovial he is very good--unlike the actor playing the Prospector, who is fatally wooden. It is Stewart who gives the movie greatness. Unlike John Wayne, who gave the impression of superhuman girth and will, Stewart looks and acts like an upstanding citizen--until he is pushed to his limits, and out arises an intensity that is frightening. Throughout the film he reels his dangerous feelings in and is taut and seething(even his body language is forcibly restrained)--Stewart is always best when straining himself, both physically and mentally. By the end, when he fights for his own humanity, he shocks us by arriving at the point where he can strain himself no further and what results is a wonder to watch. John Wayne could never get away with what Stewart manages here. (He'd have been scared off) Please watch this film and form your own conclusions too.