Clint Eastwood rides into town and may, or may not be, the ghost of the Sherriff murdered when the cowardly townsfolk stood by and watched him whipped to death by three gunslingers – who incidentally are out of jail and coming back to take their revenge.
He is hired to protect the town, but not before he gets revenge of his own on those he feels are responsible for his own past trauma.
He demonstrates his powers not only by meting out the kind of expected gunplay and abuse, but also by forcing everyone to take part in a bizarre fiesta involving making a dwarf into the combined Sheriff and Mayor, literally painting the town red, and renaming it ‘Hell.’ He finally burns down the town.
This was the first Western Eastwood directed and is a stylistic homage to Sergio Leone. It is also indebted to Don Siegel, who directed him in The Beguiled (1971), Coogan’s Bluff, and Dirty Harry (1971).
Mayor Jason Hobart
Sheriff Sam Shaw