Cast & Crew
Albert C. Gannaway
In the town of Painted Flats, Ed Sampson intends to frighten away the incoming settlers of the area and take the land for himself. To convince the homesteaders, who Sampson regards as squatters, to leave, he shoots old Galt Martin down in cold blood and has his thugs set fire to the Martin farmhouse. They knock Galt's older son, Joe, unconscious, but his young son Timmy witnesses the murder. After Galt's funeral, as Joe and Timmy ride their buckboard through town, the thugs surround the wagon and try to lure Joe into a shootout. Ned East, a retired gunslinger who has settled in the area, intervenes by challenging one of the thugs and shooting him down in a fair gunfight. Although his thugs have already killed a U.S. marshal assigned to protect the settlers, Sampson realizes that none of his gang can outdraw Ned, and so he has hired a younger gunman of Ned's caliber, who he expects will arrive soon. Sampson also orders his men to prevent the arrival of three "mail order brides" coming to marry Ned, Joe and a third townsman, Andy Heather, as he believes marriage will make the men more reluctant to give up their homes. Meanwhile, traveling toward town are the brides, Mary, Ella and Kathie, a French woman from New Orleans, who are sharing their stagecoach with a man who pretends to sleep while they pass the time in idle chatter. When three of Sampson's men ambush the stagecoach, the mysterious passenger shoots them, causing the driver to realize that the man is infamous gunslinger Clint Jones. While waiting for Clint and the driver to fix the wagon, Mary, the oldest of the three, confides that she told Ned in their correspondence that she is younger than she really is, prompting Ella, who is marrying Andy, to admit that she also lied about her age. Kathie, the youngest but most worldly, assures them that they will be loved for themselves and intimates that she, too, has lied about "something more serious." Attracted to Kathie, Clint speaks to her in private and guesses that she has a tainted past. When he wonders why she is settling for a man she does not know, when she can have anyone, she says she hopes Joe will have a "lifetime look in his eyes," and will treat her like a human being. After Clint insists that she and he are alike, she reminds him that he kills people. He replies that he has "rules for killing," and jokingly adds, "the man must have a gun." More seriously, he says that the men he encounters know what he is, but that she cannot say the same to the man she will be marrying. He then forces her to kiss him. After the women arrive in town, the three couples find themselves happily matched. Clint crashes the triple wedding ceremony, but leaves in anguish as Kathie says, "I do." Afterward, Joe takes Kathie home, where she tries to tell him about her past, but he stops her, saying he can see all he needs to know. Anxious to become a good wife, Kathie attempts to make supper and breaks down crying when she fails, but Joe reassures her that she will learn. Although Joe is affectionate, he is bashful about the wedding night and announces that he will sleep in the barn until she feels comfortable with him. During the night, the jealous Clint gets drunk and sneaks into Kathie's bedroom. When Joe comes to her rescue, Clint draws his gun, but then leaves his unarmed opponent, laughing at Joe for abandoning his wife in bed. The next day, Joe and Ned discuss the fact that Clint has been hired by Sampson to clear out the settlers. After making plans to deal with Clint the following day, Ned coaches Joe on his shooting skills, and Kathie angrily starts to pack her bags. Inside the house, she tells Joe that he has no chance against Clint, because he is "a man," the kind she has been running from. Acknowledging her imperfect past, Joe tells her he only cares about their future and that he understands why she would doubt his manliness after he feared "taking her into his arms like a husband." Admitting he has no time to be afraid, he begins kissing her. Ned, who has eavesdropped on their conversation through the window, decides that night to confront Clint alone in town, but he is killed in the shootout. Witnessing the gunfight is Timmy, who confronts Clint and solemnly vows, "when I grow up, I'll make you sorry you did that." Although Sampson is delighted by Ned's death and calls his men to the saloon to prepare to raid the remaining settlers, Clint insists that Ned be buried. Predicting his own eventual demise, Clint drinks a toast to Ned, saying, "I'll be seeing you, Mr. East." When Timmy tells Joe that Ned has been killed, Kathie begs Joe to leave with her, as the situation is hopeless, but Joe insists that there is still a chance. He asks her to have the women and children meet in the safety of the church, then rounds up the male settlers, who surround the saloon and take Sampson and his men by surprise. Joe's plan is on the verge of succeeding until two of Sampson's men, who are burying Ned in the churchyard. see the women gather. The men then ride to the saloon, where they initiate a shootout that enables Sampson's gang to escape. As the shooting continues on the street, men on both sides are killed. Clint, Sampson and his two remaining men proceed toward the church, where Mary shoots two of them before they kill her. When Joe and his neighbors arrive, Sampson, holding a woman at gunpoint, orders the men to drop their guns and provide horses for himself and Clint. Seeing no other option, Joe tells his neighbors to comply. Inside, Kathie reminds Clint about his rules, and points out that none of the women and children have guns. Sampson takes Kathie hostage and orders the reluctant Clint to take Timmy, but when he realizes Sampson intends to kill them, Clint shoots Sampson, who falls dead on top of Galt's grave. Following the sound of the shots, Joe appears and fights with Clint. When Clint, in his jealousy, decides to break his own rule and attempts to shoot the unarmed Joe, Timmy, who has retrieved Sampson's gun, shoots him. Dying, Clint tells Timmy, "You grew up awful fast, sonny," and falls into Ned's grave.
Albert C. Gannaway
Albert C. Gannaway
John Nickolaus Jr.
David D. Waldor
The last film for Republic Pictures, one of the most respected producers of "B" pictures and westerns.
The working title of the film was Gun in the Dust. Although the film's credits include a 1958 copyright statement, the film was not registered for copyright at the time of its release. However, according to copyright records, the film was registered by Republic Pictures Corporation on November 15, 1984 under the number PA-279-559. Although the Motion Picture Herald review reported an 87-minute running time for the film, Filmfacts and a 1984 copyright registration reported a 77-minute duration. According to NYSA records, the film's footage, when approved for exhibition in New York State, was 6,948, which is approximately 77 minutes, the same length as the viewed copy.
A December 1955 Daily Variety news item reported that Steve Fisher's original screenplay Gun in the Dust was acquired in 1956 by Robert Jacks for production by his independent company. A December 1955 Los Angeles Examiner reported that Jacks had Audie Murphy in mind for a lead role. In July 1958, a Daily Variety news item reported that Jacks had originally intended to film the screenplay for Twentieth Century-Fox, but sold it to Albert C. Gannaway. According to a July 1958 Los Angeles Times news item, Gannaway signed Phil Shuken to write a new screenplay from Fisher's story.
A July 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that the film would be shot at Thousand Oaks, CA. According to a modern source, portions of the film were shot at Iverson Ranch, Chatsworth, CA. Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, the Hollywood Reporter production chart adds Jeff Baker, Howard Wright, John Kidd, Joan Connors, Irwin Berke and K. L. Smith and a July 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item adds William Keene to the cast.
Plunderers of Painted Flats was the last theatrical release of Republic Pictures Corp., a company that had produced or distributed over nine hundred films, a high percentage of which were Westerns, since its incorporation in 1935. After studio head Herbert J. Yates lost control of Republic in mid-1959, the company continued to exist, but concentrated on television distribution of its film library.