Cast & Crew
As Whip Wilson and Dave Connors survey the land in a valley, they see a young woman arguing with an old homesteader. When the woman, who introduces herself as Frances Martin, rides toward them and asks what they are doing, the men tell her that they are surveyors plotting land for a new railroad line. Frances says that things will be all right now that the rail line is coming, then rides off. Later, when Whip and Dave go into town, which is called Martinsville, they notice that all of the local businesses are also named Martin. After checking into the hotel, Dave and Whip see the homesteader, whose name is Hawkins, arguing with shipping line manager Mooney. When Mooney threatens Hawkins, Whip and Dave try to intervene, incurring Mooney's anger. Whip then tell Hawkins about the railroad, and the old man is overjoyed, saying that he will no longer have to deal with crooks like Mooney and Martin. When Whip and Dave enter the saloon, the bartender refuses to sell them lunch, causing an argument that escalates into a fistfight when cowboys Macklin and Crawford intervene. Thinking that Whip and Dave will win the fight, the bartender wants to get help, but his boss, Frances' sister Clara, stops him. After the fight, Clara invites them into her office and introduces them to banker Benson. When she says that her father, whose affairs she has handled for years, owns most of the land in the valley, Whip corrects her, saying that the federal government does. Benson then suggests that Whip and Dave convince the railroad to bypass the valley, but Whip says that would cost too much. Benson then says that the bank would make up the loss and offers a Whip a $5,000 bribe. When Whip and Dave refuse, Clara threatens them. After they leave, Benson tells Clara that they should take the money they have accumulated and leave Martinsville, but Clara insists that they need another year or two.
During the night, Whip wakes up and sees someone sneaking around outside. He leaves the room without awakening Dave and sees Macklin, who, on Clara's orders, throws a note attached to a rock through their bedroom window. Whip catches Macklin, and after Dave joins him, ties Macklin up in Clara's office. The next morning, Whip rides to Hawkins' place and asks him to hide his surveying equipment because four masked men have been following him. Just then, Frances arrives and says that she came to warn them. Hawkins is antagonistic toward her until Mrs. Hawkins, who has been ill, asks Frances to stay with her. Frances later explains that Clara dominates her father, who lets her run everything in town and knows nothing about the business. Whip then suggests that they ride to see Martin and explain the situation. When they arrive at the Martin ranch, Martin says that he has no problem with the homesteaders as long as he can run his business. Just then, Clara and Benson arrive. She and Frances immediately start to argue, prompting Martin to side with Clara. Whip tells him about the railroad, and Martin says he does not mind it coming as long as it will not interfere with his business, but Clara insists that it will.
When Whip and Dave return to Hawkins' place, they find him badly beaten and the surveying equipment destroyed. Hawkins says that he is going to gather the other settlers and "do some shooting," but Whip has another idea. He instructs Dave to ride toward Dodge City to get new equipment and asks Hawkins to find out if any of the other homesteaders have any telescopes or other things that might serve as temporary surveying instruments. Some days later, while Dave is still away, Whip works with the homesteaders to continue surveying with the outmoded equipment. Meanwhile, Clara, Benson and their men station themselves on the rocks above. Clara orders the men not to start shooting until she gives the order, but as Dave rides up, Macklin shoots him. A few moments later, Frances and Martin ride up and Martin tells Clara that he will take no part in "bushwhacking," especially as the government would investigate. When Benson says that Dave is dead, Martin disappoints Frances by saying that now they will have to kill the others. In the valley, Whip tells the homesteaders to aim their telescopes toward the rocks above to pinpoint their targets. He then calls out for Martin to meet him half way. When they meet face-to-face, Whip tells Martin that Clara has been lying to him about the railroad and that his freight company and store have been strangling the settlers. Shocked, Martin says that he will look into it and admits that one of his men shot Dave.
Meanwhile, Frances sees Dave on the ground and discovers that he has only been wounded. Seeing Dave get up, Macklin shoots at him again, making the others think that Clara has given the signal. Now a gun battle erupts between Clara's men and the settlers, but because the settlers have telescopes, they have the advantage. Not willing to give up their lives, Clara's men decide to surrender. One of the departing men tells Clara that Benson left some time ago. Clara then rides out and finds Benson on the trail and discovers that he has cleared out the bank of all of their money. Benson says that he was coming to get her, but she knows he is lying and shoots him. She then takes the moneybag and starts to ride away, but Benson grabs his own gun and shoots her in the back just before he dies. Some months later, the railroad comes through the valley, delighting Martin, Frances, Dave and Whip.
Vincent M. Fennelly
The film's working title was Gun Smoke Range.