Cast & Crew
In 1856, mine owner and former member of the Vigilantes, Rick Nelson, goes to San Francisco with his employee Shorty to buy supplies. Having been away for five years, Rick has no interest in ridding the city of corruption and dismisses a plea from his old friend, newspaper editor and captain of the Vigilantes, Jim Martin, to rejoin the group. At a saloon, Rick's interest is piqued by a portrait of the beautiful and wealthy Adelaide McCall, who is worshiped by many of San Francisco's men. Rick finagles a way to be introduced to Adelaide and also meets her friend, Andrew Cain, a political boss trying to gain control of California for his own end. At Cain's request, Adelaide joins Rick's poker game to learn more about him. Later, while on a seaside buggy ride with Rick, Adelaide expresses admiration for Cain's efforts to build up San Francisco and the rest of California. However, Rick, who has guessed that she is using him, insults Adelaide and she leaves him alone at the beach. Later, when he gets to town, he finds a note of apology from Adelaide and proceeds to her house. There Adelaide invites him to join Cain's cause and Rick again responds rudely. In retaliation, Adelaide has Rick shanghaied on his way back to the hotel. However, Rick escapes from the ship and swims to the waterfront saloon owned by the frowsy Sadie, an old friend. After a good laugh at Rick's expense, Sadie advises him that it is profitable to join up with Cain. Later, Cain meets with his political cohorts at Adelaide's house. Having bought enough votes to assure that his puppet, Winfield Holbert, will be elected to the United States Senate, Cain insists that the fatuous Holbert sign a confession that admits to acquiring votes through fraud and promising to send federal patronage to Cain. Although Cain plans to keep the paper private, he tells his cohorts that he needs it to assure that Holbert remains under their control while he is living 3,000 miles away in Washington. Meanwhile, despite Adelaide's provocations, Rick is still attracted to her, and would like to get her away from Cain. Also, he grudgingly admits to Jim that he would like to see San Francisco free from corruption. Posing as an opportunist, Rick offers his services to Cain in exchange for favors. Although Rick is received by Cain with suspicious politeness, Cain gives him an assignment: Rick is to free Cain's former employee Meyers from jail and deliver him to Cain. Although Meyers is the only ex-cohort of Cain's that has been willing to inform against him, Jim agrees to assist Rick in helping Meyers escape, hoping that if Rick earns Cain's trust, he can get inside information that will bring Cain down legally. During the night, Rick and Shorty break out Meyers, but the double-crossing Cain has his men ambush them. Meyers is killed and Rick is wounded in the shoot-out. While secretly recuperating from flesh wounds at Sadie's establishment, Rick asks Jim to publish an announcement of his death in the newspaper. After reading the death notice, Adelaide turns on Cain and sends the paper Holbert signed, along with other incriminating documents, to Jim and insists that Jim use them to incite the people to lynch Cain, as she knows Cain has the influence to escape any legal proceedings. Jim insists that the Vigilante code requires a fair trial for wrong-doers, but fearing Cain's retaliation against Adelaide, arrests her as a material witness to keep her safely guarded at the newspaper office. When Jim tells Rick about Adelaide, he, too, is worried for her safety and publicly challenges Cain to a duel set for the next morning. When Cain sends men to attack the newspaper office, Jim sneaks Adelaide to Rick's hotel room, and she warns Rick that Cain will most likely cheat in a duel. Early the next morning, Rick and Cain meet at the beach. Although one of Cain's men tries to shoot Rick in the back, Shorty shoots him first, and then Rick kills Cain. Afterward, Jim releases Adelaide, despite her involvement with Cain, and she returns with Rick and Shorty to the mine.
O. Z. Whitehead
D. D. Beauchamp
Edward G. Boyle
As depicted in the film, when the weak San Francisco city government was unable to suppress outlaw organizations terrorizing the city during the mid-1800s, some citizens, including many who held high positions, formed Committees of Vigilance, which seized and punished prisoners, usually after trying them. Although the San Francisco Vigilantes were reported to have acted with relative restraint, similar groups that formed throughout the West were common lynch mobs. Despite the efforts of the Vigilantes, San Francisco repeatedly returned to the condition of corruption and crime that gave the city its notorious reputation. In 1856, a "Law and Order" faction was formed by respectable citizens who disapproved of the Vigilantes' methods.
October and November 1951 Hollywood Reporter news items add the following actors to the cast: Ted Adams, Marie Bodee, Roy Canada, Henry Cording, Desser Dean, LeRoy Johnson, Frank Losee, John Monohan, Bob Morgan, Gloria Noble, Joel Ray, Wally Rose, Frosty Royce, Dave Sharpe, Mickey Simpson, Joe Wall and Martin Wilkins. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The portrait of Yvonne DeCarlo seen in the film was painted by Audubon Tyler, a Los Angles County Art Institute teacher and grandson of John James Audubon, the famous painter of birds. An October 1951 Variety news item announced that, with The San Francisco Story, Fidelity Pictures was launching a $5,000,000 program to produce a new picture every eight weeks for Warner Bros. release. However, the other five properties lined up by Fidelity were not produced and subsequent Fidelity films were not released by Warner Bros.