Sierra Baron


1h 18m 1958

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Regal Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
Mexico and United States
Location
Cortez Pass,Mexico; Mexico City,Mexico; Mexico
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Sierra Baron by Thomas Wakefield Blackburn (New York, 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Film Length
7,176ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

In 1848, eighty-seven years after the Princessa Grant, comprising 43,000 acres of land in California, was given to Rafael Delmonte by Charles III, King of Spain, his descendant, Miguel, while visiting Mexico, receives word that his father has been shot and killed. As the new padrone of the Princessa, Miguel returns to find that gold has been discovered on the land and "Yankees" have built a town on the north mesa. Accompanied by his vaqueros, Miguel rides to the Yankees' town and puts up a notice of trespassing. Real estate agent Rufus Bynum, who has sold land to the settlers there, assures them that the Senate will not ratify a pending peace treaty that allows owners of Spanish land grants to keep them; however, because he thinks that Miguel's interference could slow land sales, he offers hired gun Jack McCracken $1,000 to kill Miguel. Jack rides to the Princessa hacienda, where he meets Miguel's attractive sister Felicia. When she mistakes him for a Yankee, he informs her he is a Texan, and that he has contempt for the Yankees. Meanwhile, Miguel finds a Yankee skinning a cattle hide and orders him to pay twenty dollars. Two other Yankees draw their guns, but Jack, who has followed Miguel, kills them. Miguel invites Jack to the hacienda for a drink, and Jack reveals with a smile that he was sent to kill Miguel. Despite her brother's objections, Felicia invites Jack to stay the night at the hacienda. She comes to his room and offers a gold cross, a wedding gift from the king to her grandmother to buy his services. After Jack offers himself as an extra gun to Miguel, Bynum's men lasso Jack, drag him through water and beat him up, but Miguel and his vaqueros arrive before they can kill him. Felicia tends to Jack's wounds at the hacienda, and Jack, in his delirium, says he loves her. When a wagon train of tired, starving settlers from the East plead with Miguel to let them stay until the fall and plant a crop, he graciously gives them good grassland to use, along with food and blankets. When he is told that a young mother, Sue Russell, remained in the desert to tend to her husband after a Pawnee Indian attack, he rides out with two vaqueros and comforts Sue, who has just buried her husband, with news that her young daughter is safe with the wagon train. As Jack recovers, he spends time with Felicia and explains that he became a pistolero after seeing his father gunned down. Sometime later, Miguel and Jack find miners setting explosives on the land. When Miguel gives them one hour to leave, one of the men attempts to shoot him, but Jack guns the man down, then learns that the man was a professional gunslinger. Bynum next tries to encourage the members of the wagon train to file claims on the land, saying a new law supporting them will take effect as soon as the Senate refuses to ratify the pending treaty with Mexico. When Felicia confronts Jack about the words he spoke while he was delirious, he admits that he does love her, but walks away saying they cannot be together. At the Yankee town, news arrives that the Senate has recognized the Spanish land grants as valid. Bynum and a group decide to kill Miguel before he learns the news and ride to the hacienda with torches. Meanwhile, Miguel courts Sue at the wagon train. He proposes and kisses her passionately, but she cannot forget what happened in the desert. Bynum and his followers begin their raid at the hacienda; however, they stop when they see the settlers' wagons approach. Miguel tells the Yankees that he never intended to dispossess them and that they can keep their homes, but that he will press his claim against Bynum when new courts are established. After Jack shoots one of Bynum's men, the new marshal arrests Bynum for inciting violence, but he escapes. Jack is about to leave, to Felicia's displeasure, when Miguel offers him a partnership. Jack says he is not the man for Felicia, then drinks to Miguel for giving away the town and calls him the "Sierra Baron." When Bynum pulls a gun on them, Miguel shoots him, using a trick that Jack had taught him. Jack, however, is hit by Bynum's bullet. He tells Felicia that he has loved her since he first saw her, and gives her the golden cross, which they both kiss. Sue decides that she does not want to leave Miguel and they embrace. In the present day, two girls visit a cemetery, where they find a headstone for John McCracken Delmonte, the first son of Miguel and Sue, who died at Gettysburg, and also headstones for Sister Felicia of the Cross, who became a nun, and for Jack, buried beside her, who died in 1849.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Regal Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
Mexico and United States
Location
Cortez Pass,Mexico; Mexico City,Mexico; Mexico
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Sierra Baron by Thomas Wakefield Blackburn (New York, 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Film Length
7,176ft (9 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The opening and closing cast credits very in order. According to Hollywood Reporter, Plato Skouras, the youngest son of Twentieth Century-Fox president Spyros P. Skouras, acquired the film rights to the novel in June 1956. Sierra Baron was his first film as a producer. Although the production company of the released film was Regal, when Skouras first became involved in the production it was called Artys Corp. A November 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item adds that the film was to be released by United Artists, and that André De Toth was to direct.
       According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, director De Toth and Skouras conferred with PCA officials concerning the film in July 1957. It is unclear whether De Toth was planning to direct the film at that time. Principal photography took place near Mexico City. Some scenes were shot at Cortez Pass in La Marquesa Mountains. According to the film's pressbook, the palomino "Relampago" was loaned to Skouras for the film in the name of the Mexican government by director Emilio Fernandez. The horse, which was originally presented by the president of Cuba to the president of Mexico, developed pneumonia during shooting and died.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer July 1958

CinemaScope

Released in United States Summer July 1958