Cast & Crew
In New Mexico, while watering his horse at a creek, Matt Dow, a middle-aged drifter, draws his gun on Davey Bishop, when the young stranger rides up and startles him. Once satisfied that Davey is harmless, Matt introduces himself, then decides to ride with Davey to nearby Madison, hoping to find work and settle down. Along the way, Davey and Matt spot an approaching train, and after Davey reveals that the train was robbed recently, the two men take turns shooting at a hawk. When the train's baggagemen hear the gunshots, they assume they are about to be robbed again and toss the train's money bag to Davey and Matt to avoid a confrontation. Matt is determined to return the money to the bank in Madison and orders Davey to carry the bag and ride in front of him. In Madison, meanwhile, the sheriff organizes a posse, and as soon as they spot Davey and Matt in the distance, they fire their rifles, badly wounding Davey. Once the townsmen realize they have shot Davey, he is rushed to the nearby Swenson farm while Matt is escorted to Madison. There, Matt angrily confronts the baggagemen, who admit that they acted in haste. After the bull-headed sheriff frees him, Matt heads for the Swenson farm and meets Helga Swenson, farmer Swenson's grown daughter. Helga is impressed by Matt's concern for Davey, and Matt admits that he feels responsible for Davey's plight, as he insisted the young man ride ahead of him. Matt also reveals that Davey is the same age that his own son would be had he not died. While Davey battles an infection, one of the posse members visits the farm and tells Matt that the town has taken up a collection for Davey, an orphan they have watched over since childhood. Later, the Swedish-born Helga, who is attracted to Matt but obeys the strict rules of courtship imposed by her father, questions Matt about his past, and he confides that his son died accidentally ten years before and that his wife divorced him. To earn his keep, Matt helps out on the farm, and Davey's condition slowly improves. One day, the doctor pronounces Davey fit but, in private, tells Matt and Helga that Davey's broken leg did not heal properly and will never support his weight. After attempting to walk and falling, Davey screams in frustration, and Matt tries to help with a stern lecture on pride and forbearance. Davey reacts by throwing a chair into a mirror, then pulls himself to his feet. Despite a limp, Davey soon is walking and riding again. When Matt, who has earned the townspeople's respect, is asked to take over as sheriff, he convinces Davey to become his deputy. Before he leaves for town, Helga warns Matt that Davey's lingering anger toward the town may lead to trouble. Later, the Madison bank is robbed by two gunmen, one of whom is immediately captured, and the other of whom, Morgan, is tracked down by Matt. Morgan offers Matt a bribe, but Matt refuses and forces the outlaw back to town. There Matt is dismayed to discover that the other robber was hanged by drunken townsmen and that Davey did little to stop the lynching. Wanting to give the disheartened Davey a second chance, Matt instructs him to escort Morgan to the county seat. Davey soon returns to town with a head wound, declaring that Morgan jumped him and escaped. After accepting Davey's resignation, Matt proposes to Helga and formally asks her father for her hand. Later, during Easter services, two gun-toting outlaws burst into the Madison church and reveal that their cohorts are in the bank, setting explosives to blow up the safe. To the townspeople's horror, the outlaws' leader, Gentry, recognizes Matt and offers to cut him in on the loot, but Matt stiffly declines. Following the explosion, unsuspecting Pa Swenson drives his buggy into town and is shot down by the fleeing outlaws. Helga defends Matt to the others, and he admits that he and Gentry were in prison together after Matt was jailed for another man's crime. Though still wary of Matt, the townsmen, including Davey, join his posse. At the edge of a desert canyon populated by Comanche Indians, all of the posse members except Matt and Davey turn back. Matt pushes Davey deeper into the desert, but after a windstorm obliterates the outlaws' tracks, Davey takes a shot at Matt, grazing his arm. Matt manages to disarm Davey, who then confesses that he was in on the holdup and had allowed Morgan to escape. Disgusted, Matt commands Davey to keep riding, and they soon come upon the bodies of several outlaws, with Comanche arrows in their backs. Matt orders Davey to pick up the discarded money, and upon reaching a river, the two settle down for the night. Matt lectures Davey about accepting his lot in life, and the next morning, offers to give him another chance. Davey acts grateful and after waiting out the Indians, the wounded Matt attempts to swim across the river. Abandoning the money, Davey swims to Matt's side, but instead of saving him, pushes him under the water. Down river, Matt resurfaces and grabs some driftwood, letting the current carry him to shore. After struggling up a cliff, Matt enters some Indian ruins and sneaks up on Davey and Morgan, who are discussing plans to retrieve the money. Matt shoots Morgan, then disparages Davey as a morally corrupt coward. As Matt is about to arrest Davey, Morgan stirs and goes for his gun. Davey sees Morgan and shoots him, but is himself shot by Matt, who assumed he was aiming at him. Matt holds the dying Davey in his arms, then later at the Swenson farm, hands the money over to the posse and tells Helga that Davey did "fine."
Harriet Frank Jr.
John P. Fulton
William H. Pine
William C. Thomas
Onscreen credits for the film include the following acknowledgment: "We acknowledge with thanks the cooperation of the Department of Interior, National Park Service, for the scenes photographed in the Aztec Ruins National Monument, Aztec, New Mexico." As noted in contemporary sources, additional shooting took place in the mountains of Colorado. According to modern sources, specific Colorado locations included Silverton and Durango.
Run for Cover was the last film made by noted character actor and humanitarian Jean Hersholt (1886-1956). It also marked Hersholt's first significant film role since the 1941 RKO release Melody for Three. He appeared as himself in the 1950 Twentieth Century-Fox release Dancing in the Dark (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). Following Hersholt's death, AMPAS created a special Oscar in his name, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which is awarded annually. Although Hollywood Reporter production charts add Howard Joslin to the cast, his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Modern sources add Henry Wills (Citizen) to the cast. Run for Cover marked the first Western made by James Cagney since the 1939 Warner Bros. production The Oklahoma Kid (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40).
Last film for actor Jean Hirscholt, for whom the Academy's Humanitarian Award is named after.
Released in United States Spring April 1955
Released in United States Spring April 1955