The Desperate Trail : After years of suffering under her beating husband, Sarah decides to no longer take any humiliation or battery, and kills him. For that, Marshal Speakes, her father-in-law, sentences her to the gallows. During a failed hold-up on the coach, she escapes, but Jack Cooper manages to snatch away the transported twenty-five hundred dollars from her, which she would have needed to start a new life. So she follows him to get it back. Soon they have to team up against the Marshal, who wants her dead so badly, he doesn’t mind breaking the law.
Not the upstanding marshal he’s supposed to be
It’s too bad that Sam Elliot was born about 30 years too late and was not on the scene in the 40s and 50s when westerns began to change to more adult themes. He was as born to the saddle as a Joel McCrea or a Gary Cooper was, Elliott would have been a superstar then.
Not that he’s done too badly now as The Desperate Trail shows. It’s just that westerns have limited release for a specialized audience now. When we meet Elliott he’s a marshal escorting a handcuffed prisoner for a date with a hangman. His prisoner is Linda Fiorentino and a holdup interrupts the journey.
When all is said and done another passenger Craig Sheffer makes off with several grand in Wells Fargo money and Fiorentino is loose and Elliott in a most embarrassing position. Naturally the marshal rounds up a posse and pursues the outlaws.
But this is a western with modern and adult themes, more modern than was discussed even in those beginning days of adult westerns. Sam and Linda do have a relationship of sorts and Linda is a battered spouse. As the film progresses Elliott is shown not to be the upstanding marshal that he professes to be and what we expect in the usual type of westerns.
If you like action there are more than enough shooting incidents to satisfy your craving. Elliott, Fiorentino, and Sheffer give fine performances in the leads.
A western with some very modern themes.