Cast & Crew
In the remote town of Lavic, Arizona, Tim Holt and Chito Rafferty, co-owners of a bankrupt stage line, are preparing to sell their coach when attractive stranger Roxie Bonselle enters their office and asks whether they picked up a distinguished-looking man on the road from Yuma. After Tim informs her that they saw no one, Roxie leaves and anxiously reports the news to her cohort, gambler Dave Warwick. Unknown to both Roxie and Tim, the man, John Carver, has snuck into town on foot, where he is recognized by Emily Bryce, Tim's sweetheart. Although Carver orders an angry but frightened Emily not to reveal his presence, Emily rushes to the stage office to telephone the penetentiary in Yuma. Before the call goes through, however, Carver cuts the phone lines. Without explaining her actions to Tim, Emily races off in her buggy to see the sheriff in the next town. Carver, meanwhile, breaks into an abandoned boardinghouse and is knocked out by an unseen assailant. The attacker suddenly flees, and upon reviving, Carver retrieves some money hidden in a closet. As soon as Carver exits the building, two armed men, Langdon and Allen, corner him, demanding some of the cash. Carver jumps Langdon, his former prison cellmate, and is shot. The gunfire alerts Tim and Chito, who chase off Langdon and Allen and help the wounded Carver. Although Tim and Chito realize that Carver is the man for whom Roxie was searching, they are unaware of his dubious connections to Emily and eagerly agree to drive him across the Mexican border for $1,000. While traveling, Carver spots Langdon and Allen riding close behind and orders Tim and Chito to stop at a deserted shack. After sending Tim and Chito off to guard the road, Carver removes the stuffing of one of the horses' harnesses and replaces it with his cash. Tim and Chito, meanwhile, scare off Langdon and Allen with gunfire. As they are reboarding the coach, Tim notices a scrap of paper on the ground, which turns out to be an old deposit slip from the now-defunct Lavic bank, which Emily's father used to own. Soon after, on the road, Tim and Chito pick up Emily, who became stranded after her horse gave out. Inside the coach, Carver explains to the still-hostile Emily that he did not escape from prison, as she suspects, but was paroled, thanks to his lawyer. The group then stops at an inn operated by Tim and Chito's friend Burley, but no one except Bronson, Carver's lawyer, who is also the man who attacked Carver in the boardinghouse, can be found. Privately, Emily reveals to Tim and Chito that Carver embezzled $100,000 from her father's bank, which ruined the bank and caused her father to commit suicide. Tim deduces that Carver has the stolen money with him, but before he can investigate, Langdon and Allen ride up and steal the stagecoach. By the time Tim and Chito track down the coach, Langdon and Allen have torn it apart searching for the money. Once again, Tim and Chito scare off the crooks and return the coach, with the harness intact, to Burley's barn. Soon after, Roxie appears at the inn, claiming to have been stranded on her way to meet Carver, her old sweetheart, in Mexico. Although Bronson denounces Roxie as a gold digger, Carver happily reunites with her. Unknown to Carver, Warwick is in the barn hunting for the money, and when Tim goes to investigate why Burley's dog is howling, he discovers Burley's dead body, then spots Warwick running from the barn. Tim intercepts Warwick and brings him inside, where Bronson identifies him as Roxie's lover, a charge Roxie denies. After Tim accuses both Warwick and Bronson of murdering Burley, he follows Carver into the barn and sees him removing the money from the harness. Carver is then attacked by Langdon and Allen, but before they can escape with the cash, Tim surprises them and grabs the money. Cash in hand, Tim locks himself in Emily's room, and soon, Roxie, Warwick, Bronson, Langdon and Allen decide to join forces in order to reclaim the loot. As the crooks break down Emily's door, Tim, Chito and Emily sneak out the window and flee in the coach. As the coach careens down the road, Tim and Chito exchange gunfire with the thieves and finally defeat them. Later, having learned that the surviving crooks have been arrested, a grateful Emily presents Tim and Chito with enough reward money to save their stage line.
Albert S. D'agostino
J. Roy Hunt
Although Gail Patrick's character name is listed as "Rosa" in reviews and the CBCS, she is called "Roxie" in the film. Francis McDonald is listed in Hollywood Reporter production charts and modern sources as a cast member, but he did not appear in the completed film. Exteriors were shot at Little Rock near Palmdale, CA, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item. Desert Passage was the final film in RKO's long-lived series of westerns starring Tim Holt. Holt made his first starring appearance in the 1940 RKO film Wagon Train. The first release to feature Richard Martin as Holt's sidekick "Chito Rafferty" was the 1947 picture Thunder Mountain (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). Martin also appeared as "Chito" in the 1943 RKO war film Bombardier, but was not paired with Holt in that picture.