Cast & Crew
While riding along the open trail, cowboy Eddie Dean witnesses the shooting death of rancher Walt Jarvis by a hidden sniper. When Eddie brings Walt's body to town, he is accused of the killing by rancher Barney Foster. The sheriff agrees to jail Eddie until he can investigate the murder scene, and while he is away, Foster confers with Walt's crooked lawyer, Ben Gunnison, about the case. Feeling sure that Walt's niece Mary Ann, whose father was murdered six months earlier, will now want to sell the Jarvis property, Gunnison goes to tell her about Walt's death. As hoped, Mary Ann instructs Gunnison to find a buyer for the ranch, unaware that he has already arranged for Foster to purchase it. On his way back to town, Gunnison meets with cohort Jud Grimes, who has been secretly working a rich gold strike on the Jarvis ranch. Having checked out Eddie's story, the sheriff, meanwhile, releases Eddie, who then rides out to see Mary Ann. Eddie tells Mary Ann and Gunnison that he is interested in buying the ranch, but later asks Mary Ann for a job and, without explaining why, begs her not to sell. Although somewhat suspicious of Eddie, Mary Ann agrees to hire him, but insists that she is going ahead with the sale. While out riding, Eddie comes across Mary Ann's cook, Soapy Jones, a would-be marksman, practicing his shooting near the gold mine's entrance. After Soapy accidentally shoots Grimes, rendering him unconscious, he and Eddie stumble upon the gold mine. Hoping to trap the killer, who he knows is left-handed, Eddie instructs Soapy not to tell anyone about the mine. Just then, Grimes regains consciousness and, before Eddie and Soapy can stop him, races back to tell Gunnison that two Jarvis ranch hands know about the mine. Mary Ann then informs Eddie that she has changed her mind about selling, but becomes infuriated when he refuses to reveal why he came to her ranch. In town, Eddie drops by Gunnison's office and tells him that he fears for Mary Ann's safety if she remains at the ranch. After Gunnison agrees to talk to Mary Ann that night, Eddie hands him a cigar and watches as he lights it with his left hand. Later, Eddie breaks into Gunnison's office safe and absconds with a bag of money. The next day, Soapy discovers Grimes's dead body hidden in a bush, and while he and Eddie go to report the murder to the sheriff, Gunnison and Foster ride to the ranch in search of Mary Ann. They find a note on her front door, announcing that she has been kidnapped and demanding that Eddie bring $1,000 to a deserted cabin. Although Gunnison recognizes Mary Ann's handwriting on the note, he decides to use her ploy to teach Eddie a lesson to his own advantage and rides with Foster to the cabin. There, he finds her tied up and, while pretending to believe her kidnapping story, insists that she stay at Foster's ranch for her own protection. Mary Ann's foreman, Bob, and her other ranch hands then find another one of her ransom notes on Eddie's pillow, but when Eddie arrives, he sees through Mary Ann's ruse and decides not to investigate. Gunnison, meanwhile, tries to force Mary Ann into signing the land sale papers by threatening to kill Eddie, but she refuses. At the cabin, Bob and the other hands become embroiled in a gunfight with Foster's men, who demand that they turn over Eddie. While Gunnison returns to town with the land papers, on which he has forged Mary Ann's signature, Eddie tells the sheriff he is a U.S. Marhsal and identifies the money he took from Gunnison's safe as stolen cash from a train robbery. Having overheard Eddie's revelation, Gunnison tries to ambush him on the trail, but is thwarted by Soapy. Gunnison and Foster then try to escape with Mary Ann as their hostage, but Eddie pursues and apprehends them. Later, Mary asks Eddie to stay and help run the gold mine, but he insists he has other work to do and bids her farewell.
William L. Nolte
The working title of this film was Tornado Range. Hollywood Reporter production charts list James Brown, not Ernie Miller, who is credited onscreen, as director of photography. Modern sources add Forrest Taylor to the cast.