Kinkaid (Clint Walker) is a bounty hunter in the old west who doesn’t have time for sentiment or friendship. All he cares about is the money that his next bounty is going to bring in. When he captures outlaw Billy Riddle (John Ericson), it should be a cool $5,000 payday. The only problem is that Billy’s girlfriend, a prostitute named Mae (Margot Kidder), insists on accompanying Kinkaid while he takes Billy to jail. Though she initially conspires to help Billy escape, Mae soon starts to fall for the outwardly unemotional Kinkaid, especially when she discovers the details of his tragic backstory. (Every bounty hunter has one!)
However, the three of them soon run into another problem. Angus Keogh (Richard Basehart) and his gang have decided that they want to collect the bounty for themselves. Kinkaid, Billy, and Mae find themselves trapped in a canyon, under siege and with no food or water. The three of them will have to work together to survive but can they trust one another?
The Bounty Man was a made-for-TV western and it feels like it was originally mean to be a pilot. There’s not really much to the story, beyond establishing Kinkaid and Mae as characters who could potentially have a new adventure every week. I did like the performance of Richard Basehart, especially in the scene where he taunts the trapped Kinkaid by demonstrating that he has so much water that he can pour it out of his canteen without having to worry about running out. Basehart was a good villain and Walker was a believable hero, even if the character wasn’t very interesting. Margot Kidder, not surprisingly, is the best thing about the film. Mae is stock role, the prostitute with a heart of gold, but Kidder brings a lot of life to the part.
The Bounty Man was one of many TV movies directed by John Llewelleyn Moxey. He does a good job moving the action along. The Bounty Man is a quick, 70-minute diversion for undemanding western fans.