Three cowhands, between jobs, have the bad dumb luck to pitch night camp in the same valley as a cabin full of guys who just robbed a stagecoach and killed the guard. Come morning, a posse arrives, forms up along the ridge, and takes for granted that everyone down below is guilty–fit for either shooting to bits or hanging from a tree, whichever comes first. Precisely half of Ride in the Whirlwind’s 82 minutes is devoted to tapping the matter-of-fact, absurdist horror of that situation. In the remaining half, the two surviving cowpokes (Jack Nicholson and Cameron Mitchell) seek shelter at a farmhouse where they reluctantly threaten the farmer, accept breakfast from his wife, flirt with his daughter (Millie Perkins), play some checkers, and hope to remain undetected till nightfall.
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