In the years following the Civil War, the town of Abilene, Kansas is poised on the brink of an explosive confrontation. A line has been drawn down the center of the town where the homesteaders and the cattlemen have come to a very uneasy truce. The delicate peace is inadvertently shattered when a group of new homesteaders lay down their stakes on the cattlemen's side of town, upsetting the delicate balance that had existed thus far and sparking an all-out war between the farmers, who want the land tamed and property lines drawn, and the cowboys, who want the prairies to be open for their cattle to roam. Dan Mitchell (Randolph Scott) is the town marshal of Abilene, KS, in the turbulent years after the Civil War and the start of the big cattle drives out of Texas.
The town is growing faster than a lot of citizens are prepared to deal with it, especially as homesteaders start moving in, fighting for space with the cattlemen. Dan has kept the peace, such as it is, by keeping the saloons, gambling, and guns on one side of Main Street and the shop-owners, farmers, women, and children on the other. He's also been walking a tightrope in his own life, conducting a sometimes turbulent romance with Rita (Ann Dvorak), a saloon singer and co-owner, while also not discouraging the attentions of Sherry Balder (Rhonda Fleming), the "nice girl" daughter of one of the town's leading businessmen, who would love to marry Dan if only he would settle down. A new wave of homesteaders is arriving, and the cattlemen, cowboys, and saloon owners want them driven out and the town kept wide open, fearing the homesteaders' religious beliefs and the arrival of families, which means schools, building, and encroaching "respectability." Trouble breaks out and people are killed, with Dan caught in the middle. Using his guile and a good deal of bravery, and the unwitting help from the cowardly county sheriff (Edgar Buchanan), Dan manages to get the shop owners onto the side of the homesteaders, and plays a dangerous game of divide-and-conquer with the saloon-keepers and cowboys.
Running Time: 62 Minutes
MPAA Ratings: Approved
A righteous sheriff finds himself in the pinch when there is hostility against homesteaders. He urges his fellow villagers to choose sides and to help him end the conflict.
Decent old-school western. Every cliché is there: from the fierce shootouts to the merry can-can dancers;from the stubborn but righteous sheriff to the crooks stirring up things in town. It's not as harsh as we're used to since Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinah and the boundary between right and wrong is pretty clear from the start. But I liked it as a fan of the western. It's not a classic in any way, but still a decent flick to see if you like the genre. December 2007 | by Ryu_Darkwood (Netherlands)
Randolph Scott as Marshall Dan Mitchell
Edgar Buchanan as Sheriff Bravo Trimble
Lloyd Bridges as Henry Deiser
Ann Dvorak as Rita
Rhonda Fleming as Sherry Balder
Helen Boyce as Big Annie
Howard Freeman as Ed Balder
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