A mob of horsemen destroys a mining camp, but doesn’t kill anyone. Turns out to be the LaHood gang, trying to make the miners “leave voluntarily.” In addition to the raids, when miners come into town, they get beaten up. But the LaHoods refrain from
killing, so as not to attract the law, which presumably has its hands too full to bother with mere assault and battery.
The Preacher (Clint Eastwood) arrives, and to everyone’s surprise, is able to manhandle the bad guys, as well as drive a little bit of backbone into the miners.
The bad guys resort to hiring a posse that pretends to be the law but leases its services to the highest bidder. The final gunfight shows that the Preacher has some history with the bad-guy enforcers; is he not indeed back from the dead? No one knows for sure.
The story can be taken as an allegory of how “God works in mysterious ways.” Courage, doing the right thing should be chosen and “damn the torpedos.”
It is engaging and entertaining, which is what a movie should be first of all. The sounds — the hoofbeats, the clinking sledge-hammers against rock — are memorable.
The Savior’s name is taken three times. That’s a shame. That makes what could be a classic into something iffy whether it should be watched at all.