Randy Tippy's correct observation that this is an "oddly written" Western would be more accurate as "queerly written". How is it that I'm the only person who sees what this film is really about? Ben is in love with Jeff.
This isn't speculation. Borden Chase wrote "I have always believed that a man can actually love and respect another man more so than he can a woman."
This is seen in Ben's intense affection for Jeff. (If Jeff weren't so emotionally cool, he'd probably tell Ben to get lost.) Jeff returns the affection when, on three occasions, he lights Ben's pipe and shoves it in his mouth!
If there's any doubt, consider that the very last shot is a close-up of the symbol of Ben's love for Jeff, a tinkling bell, dangling from Jeff's pommel.
"The Far Country" is is a great example of subtext. Indeed, the title refers not only to Alaska, but to emotionally intimate male relationships.