Cast & Crew
In a hideout near the town of Plainview, Texas, outlaws led by Alvin Dennis try to convince Dennis' hotheaded younger brother Bob that it is safer to rob banks in small towns, where there will be fewer guns, than larger towns, which have more money. The gang then rides to meet their contact, Barlow, who affirms that the old marshal, Pete MacKay, should not be any trouble. Meanwhile, in Plainview, general storekeeper Jack Wright greets MacKay and Doc Lacey, who begin their daily chess game. Jack makes a deposit at the town bank, run by Mr. Livingston, then returns to the store, where his wife Martha and brother-in-law Wally are working, and his young son Billy is playing. The Dennis gang arrives at the bank and robs the vault, but when teller Larry reaches for his gun, Bob shoots him. Alarmed by the noise, MacKay and other townsfolk rush outside, and while Dennis shoots at the blacksmith, Bob kills MacKay. Jack, who has never handled a six-shooter before, picks up MacKay's gun, and in a lucky shot, wounds the retreating Dennis. Townsman George Henderson is able to finish the job and kill Dennis, then recovers the stolen money, and the citizens proclaim Jack a hero for stopping Dennis. Jack insists that he did nothing extraordinary, but soon after, The Amarillo Express carries news of the thwarted bank robbery and praises Jack and Henderson. Reading the article infuriates Bob, who vows revenge, and that night, at a celebratory party in the saloon, one of the gang members uses the newspaper to identify Henderson. The drunken townsmen exhort Jack to replace MacKay as marshal, but Jack, who has mixed feelings about having caused the death of a man, refuses and nominates Henderson. After the celebration breaks up, a drunken Henderson staggers to his farm, but is ambushed by Bob and his men. Bob shoots him, then crosses Henderson's picture off the newspaper, and when the townsmen, alerted by the shots, find Henderson's body, they realize that the paper was left by the gang as a warning that Jack is their next target. The townsmen vow to protect Jack, but nonetheless, Billy and Martha grow anxious about his safety. Jack assures Martha that the gang will be too afraid to attack within the city limits, but she remains unconvinced, and Billy begs his father to start carrying the ancient gun that lies in a drawer in the store. Later, after the increasingly nervous citizens discuss the situation and some suggest that it is Jack's problem, not theirs, a federal marshal arrives to investigate. Two weeks pass without incident, although unknown to the marshal, Bob and his men are waiting at their hideout for his departure. On the day the marshal leaves, Livingston, Clem Clark and Al Ferguson plead with him to stay, but the marshal reassures them that the gang must be gone by now and departs. Later, at the store, a morose Doc, still missing MacKay, wants to teach Jack how to play chess, while Martha worries about their lack of customers. When Billy brings in some friends for candy, their worried parents whisk the children away, and Martha realizes that no one wants to be near Jack. The cynical Doc agrees and disparages the citizens of Plainview for their cowardice, but Jack is cheered by the arrival of a $2,500 reward that was offered by the state of Kansas for Dennis' death. When Jack deposits the check, however, he is nonplussed by the reaction of Livingston and the other townspeople, and goes to the saloon to have a drink. Jack grows angrier when the bar patrons clear out, except for Doc, and when a stranger enters, even Walter, the bartender, makes a hasty exit. The stranger, Bob Alexander, listens as Jack bitterly explains that everyone assumes that Alexander is there to kill him, and Alexander, who has heard of Jack's exploits, politely wishes him good luck and also leaves rather than risk being near Jack if the gang attacks. Now sharing Doc's cynicism, Jack decries the actions of his neighbors, whom he had previously respected and never failed to help in times of crisis. That night, as a fierce wind storm blows, the Wrights eat in the back of the store, but when they hear a knock at the door, Wally answers and is shot to death by Bob, who mistakes him for Jack in the darkness. Martha is both devastated by her brother's death and terrified that her husband will be next, and after Wally's funeral, begs Jack to sell the store and move. Knowing that Bob will follow wherever he goes, Jack demurs and states that he has to defend their right to live in a place of their own choosing. Meanwhile, Bob discovers that he killed the wrong man, and decides to attack in daylight to ensure that he gets Jack. The next day, Livingston and the other men collect money and offer to buy Jack's store if he will leave town. Infuriated, Jack rejects their money and accuses them of making murder legal by giving in to the gang rather than standing up to them. Just then, they receive word that Bob and his men are riding toward Plainview, and the townsfolk scramble for cover, leaving Jack alone. Doc offers to help, but Jack asks him to look after Martha and Billy while he loads the old pistol, and, trembling, goes out to face the outlaws. As the bandits ride up, Jack shoots, but his shots go wide, and he tries to reload while facing certain death. Before the outlaws can shoot him, however, the townsfolk, who have realized their reponsibilities and armed themselves, get the drop on the outlaws. Bob rides toward Jack, but Doc shoots him, and the other bandits are rounded up. Martha and Billy embrace Jack while Livingston and the others shake Jack's hand and ask for his forgiveness. Jack readily assents, but Doc shakes his head in disgust and walks away.
Daniel Decatur Emmett
Vincent M. Fennelly
Edward Morey Jr.
B. F. Remington
Daniel B. Ullman
Allen K. Wood
The working title of this film was Gun Point. According to a December 1954 Los Angeles Examiner article, Joel McCrea was originally cast as "Jack Wright." Some exterior sequences were shot on location at Newhall, CA, according to a May 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item.
Released in United States Fall October 1955
Released in United States Fall October 1955