Although its content couldn’t be simpler—a cuckolded husband gets abandoned in the desert by his wife and her lover, and the husband’s lust for revenge compels him to survive—Ordeal has a sweaty intensity that makes it a bit more charged than the average early-’70s telefilm. It’s also unrelentingly dark, since each character in the picture is an awful human being, so the movie’s morality is enjoyably gray. And if the piece sputters to a halt with the kind of unsatisfying non-ending that plagued many small-screen movies in the ’70s, so be it—a five-minute letdown shouldn’t completely erase 85 minutes of solid buildup. Arthur Hill, the veteran stage actor whose big-screen credits include The Andromeda Strain (1971), stars as Richard Damian, a domineering son of a bitch whose callous ways have sucked the life out of his marriage to the icily beautiful Kay (Diana Muldaur). One day, Richard and Kay head out for a desert getaway with greasy local Andy Folsom (James Stacy) as their guide, even though Richard really considers Kay excess baggage during his various macho adventures. Turns out Kay has seduced Andy, so when an “accident” leaves Richard stranded on a high cliff, Kay and her lover flee with no intention of sending help. Thereafter, the movie enters a long and surprisingly compelling sequence of Richard trying to withstand dehydration, exhaustion, exposure, and the various ailments stemming from a leg injury. Director Lee H. Katzin comes up with several enterprising camera setups to keep things visually interesting, and his focus on Richard’s desire for payback ensures the movie is consistently tense. Meanwhile, cutaways from Richard’s travails to scenes of Andy and Kay reveal the disintegration of their tenuous bond. Even without a potent climax, Ordeal is an edgy exploration of the ways people abuse each other.