A cold blooded outlaw (Warren Oates) and his gang of mercenaries massacre a small settlement and pillage the town including a shipment of guns. The outlaws intend on crossing the border to Mexico but first, they need to cross a deep river that is only accessible via a barge. But the barge's boatman (Lee Van Cleef) has other ideas and a stand off ensues that will end in bloodshed. This very good western never quite reaches its potential. The screenplay by George Schenck and William Marks could have been leaner. A subplot involving Van Cleef and a married settler (Mariette Hartley) doesn't pay off and could easily have been eliminated. The direction by Gordon Douglas, that most generic of film directors, has no flair. On the plus side, we have Van Cleef and Oates perfectly cast and doing what they do best though they have almost no screen time together. Oates' character's instability needed more exploration because as it is now, he just goes batty with no detailing. But the movie's concept is strong enough to keep one glued till the very end. With Kerwin Mathews, Forrest Tucker, Marie Gomez and John Davis Chandler.