A carnal crime against a woman and the murder of her husband are examined by an Old West court in front of the smoldering jail/courthouse which the defendant has burned down trying to escape. Each eyewitness tells a surprisingly different version of the same event.
The role of motive and point-of-view are examined in trying to determine truth, and this movie dramatically illustrates why eyewitness testimony is unreliable and considered soft evidence in court. Does truth lie in the eyes of the beholder? Where else would it hide?
In addition to Paul Newman as the notorious rapist, Carrasco; the talented Claire Bloom plays the "gracious" Southern belle; the distinguished Laurence Harvey plays her husband; William Shatner plays a disillusioned young preacher, before he donned the Star Trek uniform; and Edward G. Robinson, in what may be the best performance of his career, plays a cynical card player.
In actual life, we all have our elemental certitudes that determine how we view life and react to things. In matters and issues of religion and politics, it is difficult to navigate through the dogma and posturing to know what to believe. The philosophy that "I know what I know. Don't confuse me with the facts!" seems forever emblazoned on the banner of American public discourse.