Cinema: Firecreek

Grade B westerns have to look to their clichês, grade A's to their archetypes. Firecreek has archetype trouble. In an anomaly of casting, Henry Fonda—strained, sensitive and introverted as ever beneath a bad-guy black hat and a stubble beard—is called upon to play the leader of a menacing band of desperadoes. This troubled outlaw seems to be in need of a shrink more than a sheriff.

Fleeing from some unnamed shoot-'em-up. five badmen ride into the tiny frontier town of Firecreek, where they settle down while Fonda recuperates from a bullet wound in his side. The sheriff turns out to be earnest,...

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