In this western, Anthony Quinn plays Dave Robles, a Mexican gunslinger who rides into the town of Mesa, searching for an outlaw named Dan Ritchey (Barry Atwater). When Dave finds Ritchey, he discovers that Ritchey has been invited to Mesa by one of the town’s richest men. Dave doesn’t let that stop him from gunning Ritchey down in the street.
No one in town is upset that Ritchey’s dead. Instead, they’re impressed with how quick Dave is on the draw. When Dave runs another group of outlaws out of town, the townspeople decide to hire him as their new sheriff. Reluctantly, Dave agrees. At first, saloon keeper Ed Bannister (Peter Whitney) thinks that Dave will be easy to control but Dave surprises him by taking his new position seriously. Soon, Dave is having to fight off all sorts of bad guys. Meanwhile, Estella (Katy Jurado), the town’s nurse, goes from distrusting Dave to falling in love with him and begging him to set down his guns and join her in a peaceful life.
Man From Del Rio is a surprisingly good and intelligent B-western. Anthony Quinn gives a brooding performance as Dave, who is a far cry from the type of upright lawmen who typically appeared in the westerns of the period. As played by Quinn, Dave Robles is a brute who becomes the film’s default hero just because everyone else is even worse than he is. Dave may be an outlaw and a killer but he’s neither dishonest nor a sadist, which is what sets him apart from the other bad men who ride through Mesa. Dave only kills when he feels that he has to and he doesn’t do it for pleasure. Because he’s inarticulate and uncomfortable with the trappings of civilization, men like Bannister assume that Robles will be easy to control but he proves them wrong. Quinn’s outstanding performance sets the stage for the type of morally ambiguous western heroes who would become prominent in the late 60s and the 70s. He gets good support from Katy Jurado and, in the role of the town’s previous sheriff, Douglas Spencer.
Along with an interesting plot, Man From Del Rio also has all of the gunfights and tough talk that a western fan could hope for. Capped off by Anthony’s Quinn’s star turn, it’s a superb B-western.