- Gregory Peck as Jim Douglas
- Joan Collins as Josefa Velarde
- Stephen Boyd as Bill Zachary
- Albert Salmi as Ed Taylor
- Henry Silva as Lujan
- Lee Van Cleef as Alfonso Parral
- Herbert Rudley as Sheriff Eloy Sanchez
- Joe DeRita as Simms
A powerful and brooding western about revenge and redemption, The Bravados boasts an impeccable central performance from Gregory Peck. Thrillingly scored and impressively shot, the film is a grim parable of a man driven to the extremes by the need for vengeance against those he holds responsible for the shattering of his world.
The Bravados begins with Jim Douglas, a rancher who has been hunting a quartet of outlaws for over a period of six months, arrives in the quiet town of Rio Arriba. His journey is for revenge against the four men he believes raped and murdered his wife. The four men are due to hang the next day for other crimes they have committed. After talking with the sheriff, he is allowed to see the four criminals, who are led by the crafty Bill . He observes them but none of them seem to recall his face. The arrival of Jim coincides with the other arrival of Simms, the man charged with carrying out the hanging. Jim also meets Josefa, an old flame who has wondered about Jim since she last saw him five years ago. Later that night, whilst the townspeople are at mass, Simms who it is revealed is in league with the criminals helps them escape. The quartet quickly steal a few horses and take a local man’s daughter captive as they ride away to escape justice. Jim, with the help of a few local men, shortly follows them through various gorges and mountains, all in a single-minded quest to eliminate the men he believes have caused him so much pain.
Visually, Henry King’s revenge-riddled film is a marvel containing gorges soaked in gold and dust that juxtapose with images of Jim relentlessly and violently pursuing the outlaws. Also, the scenes at night bathed in blue hues as we watch a man get in touch with his darker impulses and wrestle with his morality. The score is adventurous and contributes to the danger of the journey ahead for the characters, especially Jim. Gregory Peck turns in a powerful performance of bitterness, vengeance and determination that pushes him to the brink of madness. As we watch him hunt down the men, we are left to wonder whether they have really committed the crime he accuses them of. Peck embodies these conflicted emotions excellently and conveys a deep pain within his character as his relentless quest continues to its end and his morals are called into question. Joan Collins stars as his former love interest who still carries a torch for him, but her part is underwritten and she is miscast. Despite this, she does manage some effective moments, mainly when she gets Peck’s character to confront his loss of faith after his wife’s death. Out of the gang of outlaws, Stephen Boyd makes the biggest impression as the de facto leader Bill. He possesses a sinister smile and unnerving demeanor that come into play when he toys with the emotions of the girl they have taken captive. The many shoot outs and chases on horseback are entertaining, but what gives the film a uniqueness is the dedication to the characters as they emotionally unravel through revenge and remorse.
In my opinion, The Bravados is an underrated film that deserves more notice. It may not be up there with the best westerns, but it certainly burns itself deep into the mind after viewing it.