When Alcorn [left] appears in the lobby of the Carlton Hotel, he’s scared. He’s on the run from Manfred Holt, an outlaw responsible for the deaths of at least nine men. Alcorn was the chief witness against Holt, and now Holt has escaped from jail and has sworn to gun him down in revenge.
Paladin: It took some courage to even testify against a man like that.
Alcorn: Oh, I was scared, but I owed it to my neighbors to speak up.
Alcorn has shown admirable bravery and good citizenship by testifying against Holt, but he’s a rich city slicker with no skill in gunmanship. He’s well aware that if Holt isn’t captured quickly, he’ll soon be dead. Paladin agrees to capture Holt, for a fee.
Holt, played brilliantly by Charles Bronson, is one of the most interesting villains in Western history. Although he acknowledges that his tendency to kill is a fault, he attempts to justify it by explaining that he never killed anyone who wasn’t “holding a gun.”