Cast & Crew
Lee J. Cobb
In the 1860's, Kansas pioneer Jeptha Marr is proud of having built his town of Pawnee after forging the first wagon trail through the territory. However, he now vehemently opposes the intrusion of the railroad because he fears it will put his freight company out of business. Marr sends his hired hands, buckskin-clad Gideon Skene and Tiny, to force railroad representative Stephen Bent off a portion of his property known as the Santa Fe cutoff. Gideon breaks Stephen's surveying equipment, which effectively halts his work. However, Stephen senses Gideon's basic intelligence and would like to have him on his side. Stephen thinks of a new plan to draw Marr into agreement with the railroad's plans, and a month later, when Marr's daughter Vinnie disembarks from a train after an absence of many years, Gideon is shocked to find Stephen at her side. In town, an angry mob of unpaid workers starts a fight with Stephen, who promises he will pay them soon. Vinnie urges Gideon to help Stehen, and when Tiny sees Gideon in the fray, he too joins the fight. Working together, the former enemies quell the workers. Champ Clanton, a ruthless opportunist representing a different railroad, later attempts to get Gideon on his side. Gideon refuses to join up with him, even after Clanton implies that Stephen is involved in an illicit relationship with Rita Molyneaux, a woman of dubious reputation, which could hurt Vinnie. They are unaware that Rita is actually Stephen's friend and investor in his railroad, but when Stephen confesses to her that he has fallen in love with Vinnie, Rita's interests turn to Gideon. Vinnie, meanwhile, returns home, and the now hostile Gideon warns Stephen to stay away from her. Over the next several weeks, Marr's former clients become railroad supporters, prompting Marr to hire Clanton to destroy Stephen. A month later, Stephen arrives unannounced at Vinnie's birthday party, and tries amicably to settle his dispute with Marr. Marr refuses to negotiate, however, and Stephen reveals he will be forced to petition the federal government to condemn the cutoff so the railroad can use it. Marr angrily strikes Stephen, who leaves after he secretly gives Vinnie an engagement ring. After refusing to take orders from Clanton, Gideon then joins with Stephen. Work progresses rapidly on the laying of the railroad tracks, despite Clanton's relentless sabotage. One day, Clanton tells Vinnie about Stephen's supposed relationship with Rita, and shortly after, Tiny warns her that Clanton has sent a murderous gang to the railroad construction site. Vinnie is worried about Stephen's safety and is about to warn him when she happens to see him with Rita near the site. After Tiny urges Vinnie on for Gideon's sake, he goes to tell Marr where his daughter is. Vinnie succeeds in warning Gideon and Stephen, and Stephen forces her to remain with them for safety. When a gunfight ensues between the railroad men and Clanton's gang, Marr acknowledges that he dislikes Stephen but does not advocate murder, and therefore rounds up a posse. Stephen, Gideon and their workers fight valiantly against the marauders, and Gideon is injured in a dynamite explosion that was meant for Clanton. With the arrival of the posse, the attackers are outnumbered and arrested, and Stephen overcomes Clanton in a fistfight. Rita, who has fallen in love with Gideon, reassures Vinnie as to her romantic inclinations, and Marr now welcomes Stephen into his family.
Lee J. Cobb
Sherman A. Rose
The working title of this film was Buckskin Empire. Hollywood Reporter news items report the following information about the production: Producer Harry Sherman wanted to cast William S. Hart, Hoot Gibson, William Farnum and Jack Holt in the film. Sherman's Lippizan horse, "Florian," appears in the film. Lee J. Cobb was granted leave from Army Air Force training to appear in the picture. The American Bison Society arranged for the crew to film 3,000 head of buffalo belonging to "Pawnee Bill" Lillie in Cache, OK, for use in the film. Some scenes were shot on the "Brigham Young" set at the Twentieth Century-Fox lot and on location in Lone Pine and Kernville, CA. Information in the copyright records notes that local ranchers in the Kernville area appeared in the production, including Bodfish "Slim," and Pat and Bernard Brady.