In this movie, John Wayne as Quirt Evans is part-tough-guy and part-matinee idol. He plays against Gail Russell as Penelope Worth. The credits at IMDB say that Angel and the Badman was filmed in Sedona, AZ, but the opening shot resembles Monument Valley. A desperado on horseback fires more or less into the direction of the audience. Not long after, Evans finds his way to safety. He is taken in by Quakers, who do not believe in guns. Evans, having lost consciousness, has a reputation such that the good doctor who attends to his needs tells Penelope's mother to "get rid of him." His name is known far and wide as a man of violence. Penelope is happy to nurse him back to health, however, and does not seem to mind the horrible past that is constantly referred to without much clarification.
It is difficult to think of any John Wayne character as a "bad man", and so, as it turns out, he is as much bluff as he is tough. He deals handily with the lowest vermin of the West, and with such dubious skills, enables the Quakers' farm to be irrigated. A sheriff comes round every now and then to implicate Evans in various misdeeds. He declares how much he would like to pin a crime on the man so that he can be hung. But Evans takes the sheriff's animosity in stride, as does Penny, in addition to her whole family, which awards Evans a bible, his name engraved on the cover.
There follows a lot of cute repartee having to do with religious talk, employing the word "thee" where, for most people, "you" would suffice. And then, Evans, stricken, but still fighting it, allows himself to be carted off one Sunday to a meeting. But the time comes when the "Badman" feels that he has to ride off. There is a job to be done, involving the transfer of steer from one ownership to another. He then winds up in a bawdy, piano-tinkling tavern. His sidekick keeps reading the gifted bible as though it were pulp fiction, and together, they enjoy the company of two barroom beauties, song, and drink.
And then an internal revelation of sorts turns Evans around one hundred and eighty degrees. He cannot go on any longer. He has to return to see Penny, who has already made her intentions clear. For some, this old melodrama might seem too little, too late, and far too predictable. But it is a fine story, remade in 2009, and likable enough in black and white, dated, and no longer of much box office value. But the film scholar, movie buff, and western fan will always be around to save it from obscurity.