Filmed alongside Monte Hellman's 1966 classic, THE SHOOTING, RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND is another startling Western that defies genre conventions to tell a deeply sympathetic story about an innocent man who is forced into committing murder. Three desperadoes--Wes (Jack Nicholson), Vern (Cameron Mitchell), and Otis (Tom Filer)--become friendly with a group of outlaws who have just robbed a stagecoach (led by Harry Dean Stanton's "Blind Dick").
But the friendship leads to trouble when a band of roughnecks out to capture the thieves assume that the innocent men participated in the crime. Soon, Otis is dead, and Wes and Vern are running for their lives, hoping to escape the vengeful cowboys. They hide out in the home of Evan (George Mitchell) and Catherine (Katherine Squire), who have a beautiful 18-year-old daughter, Abigail (Millie Perkins). As the law closes in on the confused innocents, they must begin to think like guilty men, forcing Wes into committing a condemnable act that he will regret for the rest of his life--however long that may be.
Scripted by Nicholson, Hellman's picture is a brilliant portrayal of innocence lost, featuring a remarkably subtle performance from the author-actor, as well as Mitchell.