Cast & Crew
At a dock in Manzania, a Mexican seaport, Capt. Jeff Smith's crew waits impatiently to go shark hunting, but Jeff insists on waiting for his son, a college student he has not seen in twelve years. Jeff sends Piñon, the little brother of one of his sailors, Ramon, to fetch the boat's cook, The Maestro, who is drinking tequila at Pat's cantina. The Maestro and Piñon leave the cantina and are stopped by a young man, Ted Smith, who asks directions to his father's boat, on which he is to spend some time. After they set sail, Jeff inquires about Ted's plans after college and offers him half interest in the fishing boat, but Ted finds his father's lifestyle distasteful and declines. The next day, after catching some small sharks, Ramon and Ted get into a rowboat and attempt to capture a buoy that has gotten loose, but Ted falls out of the rowboat and Ramon jumps in after him. Jeff sees sharks circling Ted and Ramon, and he and a crew member, Gano, row out to rescue them. Jeff and Ramon are badly injured by the shark, but Jeff refuses to return to shore, so Ted uses his status as half-owner of the boat to order the crew to return to Manzania, promising that he will find the money to pay them. As the injured men convalesce, Ramon's sister Maria is hostile to Ted until the doctor tells her that both men would have died if Ted had not brought the boat back to Manzania when he did. While the crew members are in town, they accept jobs on Capt. Hansen's boat, although The Maestro insists that Jeff and Ramon be paid as well. Later, Jeff is visited by McCann, who brokers shark liver, and Jeff admits that he went into debt to install a new refrigeration unit on the boat and is in danger of losing his craft. Maria and Ted discuss taking the boat out on another shark-fishing expedition, and Maria says she can obtain the money to finance the voyage. Ted learns that his father's crew has left with Capt. Hansen, and, on the advice of a sailor in Pat's bar, he goes in search of a new crew at Barrego's, a seedy waterfront dive, making arrangements with a shady individual named Bracado to sail in the morning. Meanwhile, Maria asks Pat for $300, telling him that she needs the money for a specialist for Ramon, and promising that Jeff's crew will pay him back when they return. Maria gives Ted the money, and he leaves with Bracado and his crew. On board, Ted catches Tony, one of the sailors, robbing Jeff's cabin, and hits him over the head with a conch shell. Tony says nothing about the attack, but the next day, he tries to toss a hook into the back of Ted's shirt, which would send him flying into the shark-infested waters. Ted moves quickly, however, and the hook catches another sailor, Louie, and sends him overboard to his death. Bracado is unconcerned about Louie's death, and they continue fishing with great success. The night before they return to Manzania, Bracado puts sleeping pills in Ted's coffee, and while Ted is asleep, Bracado's crew transfers the tins of shark liver to a boat from Barrego's. The next morning, when Ted notices the shark liver is gone, Bracado tells him that the refrigeration system failed and all the liver had to be thrown overboard. Ted calls Bracado a liar and is knocked out by Tony. Upon reviving, Ted finds he is alone and leaves the boat just as Maria arrives. When Ted insists on going to Barrego's, Maria goes to Pat's bar and tells The Maestro, who gathers the whole crew. They defeat the thugs at Barrego's in a wild brawl, and The Maestro retrieves Ted's money from Bracado. Later, Ted bids a warm goodbye to his father and the crew, promising to return after he finishes college, and Maria surprises him with a kiss.
Enrique Garcia Michaus
Leonard W. Herman
Edward J. Kay
Davis gets a great entrance: she's hanging from a telegraph post, her leg hooked around the brace, when Tim and Chito hear her cries for help. That was no stunt double, as Davis related to Holt biographer David Rothel. "Tim was a great joker," she recalled. "They got me up to shoot the scene, and he yelled to everybody, 'Lunch!'" Needless to say, they didn't leave her hanging. Her character, Terry, is no mere romantic interest. She runs the work crew and when her father is killed she vows revenge. "It was one of the best scripts for a girl that I'd seen around that particular time," Davis explained. "A lot of times in Westerns they gave the girl the part where she sits at the ranch house waiting for the cowboy to come home, or she waves to the cowboy at the end of the picture as he rides off into the sunset." As Terry, Davis rides, shoots, rounds up a lynch mob, and even charges to the rescue. She went on to a solid career in westerns, regularly appearing in movies and TV shows before taking the lead in Annie Oakley for three seasons.
Hugh Beaumont, famed as the understanding sitcom father on Leave It to Beaver, gets bad guy duty as the owner of the town's saloon and gambling hall, and Robert Wilke, who made a career playing heavies (including one of the gunslingers in High Noon, 1952), is his go-to henchman, an opportunist who has no qualms with murder or extortion.
The character of Chito was created by Martin long before he signed on as Holt's sidekick. He first played Chito in the 1943 war drama Bombardier and reprised the role for a pair Robert Mitchum B-movie oaters, Nevada (1944) and West of the Pecos (1945), before settling in for permanent duty in support of Holt at RKO. Along with comic relief and action support, the charming Chito does all the flirting.
Director Lesley Selander was an old hand of well over 100 westerns (including 20 starring Holt) and almost as many TV episodes. He worked quickly and efficiently on the set while turning out brisk, entertaining films. Even with the decreasing budgets and shorter shooting schedules for Holt's later westerns he provides good production value.
Holt was voted the third most popular western star in the Motion Picture Herald's exhibitors poll for 1951 but the era of the B-movie western was coming to end as the genre moved to TV, along with many of its stars. Holt did not join the migration to the small screen and, apart from a few scattered appearances, retired from acting after making his final RKO western, Desert Passage in 1952.
Riders of the Range: The Sagebrush Heroes of the Sound Screen, Kalton C. Lahue. A.S. Barnes and Co., 1973.
Tim Holt, David Rothel. Empire Publishing Company, 1994.
"Tim Holt and the B Western," Tom Stempel. Off Screen Volume 17, issue 11, November 2013.
AFI Catalog of Feature Films
By Sean Axmaker
Hollywood Reporter production charts credit Talmadge Morrison with the photography, although William Sickner is credited in the onscreen credits. The film was shot on location in Ensenada in Baja California.
Released in United States Spring March 19, 1950
Released in United States Spring March 19, 1950