Moody and symbolic, this western is best remembered for William H. Clothier's innovative realization of director William Wellman's goal to create a black and white film in color. To accomplish this, the entire production was… More Moody and symbolic, this western is best remembered for William H. Clothier's innovative realization of director William Wellman's goal to create a black and white film in color. To accomplish this, the entire production was designed in shades of black and white (including the horses) and then photographed in color. The only colorful items are the actors' skin tones, two articles of clothing, the blue sky and the green of a few fir trees. The result is a bleak and claustrophobic ambience that matches the tone of the tale. Set in wintery northern California during the 1880s, the story chronicles the effects of prolonged hardship and close confinement on a pioneer family. Trapped by unusually heavy snows, the Bridges household seethes with tension, largely due to the domineering ways of the family's insanely religious and opinionated mother (Beulah Bondi). Her weak-willed husband (Philip Tonge) becomes an alcoholic. Daughter Grace (Teresa Wright) is angry that her mother has condemned her to spinsterhood. Her three sons Harold, Curt and Arthur (Tab Hunter, Robert Mitchum and William Hopper) also have problems. Arthur is the sensitive one while love-struck Harold only wants to marry a pretty neighbor girl. Curt is arrogant and aspires to run the family himself; he also wants Harold's girl for himself. The presence of the mysterious black panther (which is only a symbolic presence) that has been feasting upon the family's cattle forces the young men to face the darkest aspects of their nature and to take their first steps into manhood. Unfortunately, only one of the three brothers survives the ordeal.