Cast & Crew
Sheriff Tom White cannot stop the rash of robberies that he suspects are being engineered by the local saloon keeper, Ace Crandall, who wants to gain control of Paiute, the richest county in Arizona. By threatening foreclosure, Ace is forcing the citizens of Trailhead to sign a petition to remove the sheriff from office for incompetency, but many are holding out. He has also kidnapped the sheriff's nephew, Cole White, and hired The Dakota Kid, an escapee from the Abilene jail, to impersonate him. Dakota arrives during one of Ace's stagecoach robberies and saves the life of the sheriff's young grandson Red. Because the sheriff has not seen the real Cole for years, he easily accepts Dakota as his nephew. At the sheriff's request, Dakota delays the departure of the local schoolteacher, Mary Lewis, who is frustrated by the frequent absences of her only pupils, Red and his friend, Judy Dawson, and wants to find a new position. When she realizes the children have been learning their lessons and have promised to attend class, however, she decides to stay. The sheriff then deputizes Dakota to help with the unloading of the cattlemen's monthly payroll. To cause confusion, Ace stages a gunfight in his saloon around the time the money is to arrive. The struggle spills out into the street, and the bandits, who are in league with Ace, get away with the money as Dakota pretends to try to stop them. The sheriff takes full responsibility for the theft by applying for a loan on his ranch to cover the cattlemen's payrolls. Judy's father, Sam Dawson, owes Ace money, and when Sam refuses to sign the petition, Ace sends his men to evict Sam from his ranch. As Ace's thugs attempt to dismantle Sam's home, the sheriff and other townspeople collect almost enough money to pay Sam's debt. To avoid suspicion about his impersonation, Dakota donates the extra money that enables Sam to pay Ace in full. He wins the admiration of the crowd, but is shot in the arm by one of Ace's men. Mary patches him up, and their romance blossoms. Later at a party, the sheriff announces that he has been awarded the loan. Dakota, meanwhile, begins to admit to Mary his new feelings about being part of a family and community, but is interrupted by the nomination of a new candidate for the position of county sheriff: Cole White. During the party, Ace discretely summons Dakota to his gang's hideout, then threatens to hurt the children unless Dakota delivers the letter from the bank describing the pickup place for the sheriff's loan money. Red and Judy, who have discovered Dakota's true identity, follow him, and watch as he delivers the letter to Ace. They guess that he is acting against his will, and steal the letter back before Ace can read it. In their haste, they also take the petition. When Ace learns that the bank letter is missing, he remembers seeing the children nearby and pursues them to the sheriff's office. There he finds the petition in the hands of the sheriff, who has just discovered the purloined items. Ace accuses the sheriff of its theft. When the children and Mary ask Dakota to help the sheriff, Dakota realizes they know who he is, but still have faith in him. Later, Dakota provides information about the delivery of the money to Ace, intending to help the sheriff trap Ace and his men red-handed, but he is forced to disguise himself and assist with the theft. At the scene of the holdup, the sheriff's men do not recognize Dakota, which makes Dakota a target on both sides. When he fails to return as planned, the worried children ride out to look for him and find the real Cole, who tells them what happened to Dakota. Red goes to the site of the holdup to alert his grandfather. In the gunfight that follows, the sheriff and his men are victorious, and Ace and his men are brought to justice. The sheriff, who will accompany Dakota on his return to prison, believes that the Texas governor will grant him a parole, and Mary promises to wait for him. Also waiting for Dakota in Trailhead will be the job of sheriff, which the real Cole will hold until he returns.
House Peters Jr.
Earl Crain Sr.
John Mccarthy Jr.
The working title of the film was Tenderfoots of the Trail. A written prologue dedicates the film to the pioneer lawmen who opposed those who would control the government for their own gain. This was the second film in Republic's "Rough Ridin' Kids" series, made in conjunction with Valley Vista Productions. For additional information on the series, consult the Series Index and see the entry for Buckaroo Sheriff of Texas (above).