Cast & Crew
During the gold rush in California, young Lola Montalvo witnesses her parents, Jose and Zara, lynched by a gang when they try to oppose the state's inflated tax rates. Lola rushes to report the murders to her parents' friend, Father Antonio, at Mission San Sebastian. Later, she visits Sheriff Jim Harden in the nearby town of Madera, but she recognizes him as one of the murderers and decides not to make a complaint. When Lola meets attorney Dan Hinsdale, he explains that because the Montalvos owed taxes on their mine at the time of their death, the state took possession of it. The state, in turn, sold the mine for a fraction of its true value, and, Hinsdale says, he purchased it. Later, Harden and Hinsdale, who are planning to take over all of the gold mines in the area, plot to murder a miner named Dawson. At the mission, Carlos Murietta, also known as the bandit Joachim, introduces himself to Lola as Carlos Del Rio. With Carlos's encouragement, Lola begins her life of crime as a bandit called Zara. One day, Carlos, Lola and some townspeople, who are also angry about the high taxes, attack one of Harden's men who was assigned to guard the Montalvo mine. Later, Harden finds the corpse and a note from Zara nearby. At the mission, a cook named Maria tries to convince Lola to forsake her bandit ways, while a dwarf named Niño warns her that Harden's men are looking for her. Later, when another member of his gang, McWilliams, is found dead, Hinsdale realizes that those who lynched the Montalvos are being targeted. That evening, unaware that Lola is Zara, Hinsdale tells her that he will try to trap the bandit by staging a fake gold shipment. After Hank, another of Harden's men, tries to double-cross the gang, Harden kills him. At a party at Hinsdale's house, Hinsdale proposes to Lola, but she asks for some time to consider her response. While dining, the guests are discussing the infamous Zara, when Hank's corpse is suddenly thrown through the window with a note attached threatening: "You're next." The next day, Father Antonio, who is aware of Lola's double life, warns her that the military has been called in to apprehend her. After Lola hijacks the real gold shipment, she escapes and visits the jail to see Carlos, who was captured by Harden's men. Once inside, Lola slips into the back room, quickly changes into her bandit clothes and forces Harden and his men into the cell at gunpoint. She allows Carlos to escape, changes back and then takes her time to release the men from the cell. At the mission, Carlos admits that he is Joachim, and Lola accepts his proposal of marriage. Harden and Hinsdale then ride to the mission and demand that Carlos return to jail, but Father Antonio explains that he has taken sanctuary at the mission. Later, Carlos and Lola are married, but must escape the festivities when Harden and Hinsdale arrive. When Hinsdale realizes that Zara is Lola, she shoots him. After Capt. Gray arrests Hinsdale and the gang, he promises to urge a pardon for Carlos and Lola, after which Maria presents them with their wedding cake.
Robert L. Lippert
John Francis Murphy
Actor Angelo Rossitto was billed simply as "Angie" in the onscreen credits. According to a January 1950 Daily Variety news item, Lippert Productions purchased a story by Ken Bohn titled "The Bandit Queen." Victor West is credited onscreen as the film's story writer, however, and the extent of Bohn's contribution to the completed picture, if any, has not been determined. According to news items in Hollywood Reporter, Martha Vickers was originally cast in the role of Lola, but she relinquished the role on her doctor's orders because she was ten pounds underweight.