Cast & Crew
On a Western Pacific train traveling through California's Feather River Valley, a passenger tells his companion that Western Pacific maintains a corps of railroad detectives, and recounts a story he heard from his friend, special agent Rod Kendall: In the small town of Chester, shady Frank Wicken returns to his father Joe's general store after a long absence, but Joe refuses to give his son any money unless he changes his ways. After Frank hears his father mention to a customer that Bill Stuart will be arriving with the railroad's payroll that afternoon, he goes to the station and stabs Pop Michaels, the station master, with a switchblade. He then raises the drawbridge, and when Bill comes in to investigate, Frank clubs him to death and steals the payroll, concealing the money in a bedroll. Later, at the general store, the sheriff tells Joe that the police are checking prints on the knife, which Frank unknowingly dropped at the scene, and asks him to break the news to Bill's sister Martha. Frank is walking through the countryside when he realizes that he left the knife at the scene of the crime, and he gives a local man, Elmer, one of the stolen bills in exchange for his knife. Meanwhile, Rod meets with the sheriff, who says the prints on the knife cannot be identified, indicating that the killer has never been arrested, and when Rod notices that food has been taken from the station house, he suspects that the killer is a hobo. Rod is visiting Martha when he receives word that one of the stolen bills has turned up at the general store. Rod goes to the store and questions the befuddled Elmer about the man who bought his knife. The next day, Frank, having spent the night at a hobo camp, is at the barber shop when the sheriff comes in with a description of the killer and a list of serial numbers from the stolen money. Frank quickly returns to the camp, where the hoboes are laughing about the crook with money he cannot spend. When Keystone, one of the hoboes, learns that there is a reward for the killer, he follows Frank and hops a freight train and demands to be his partner, but Frank throws Keystone off the train. Later, at the general store, Keystone informs Rod that he has seen a man known as the "West Coast Kid," and as Elmer describes the suspect, Joe becomes visibly upset. The next day, a hungry and bedraggled Frank goes to a second-hand clothes store, and when the suspicious owner reaches for a gun, Frank stabs him and takes the gun. The police find fingerprints at the store linking the killing to the earlier murders, and that evening, Martha admits to Rod that she suspects Frank of the crimes. They call on Joe, and Rod secretly takes one of the pictures Frank made as a child. As soon as Rod and Martha leave, Frank comes in, and when Joe demands to know the truth, Frank knocks his father out, then steals some food and leaves. Meanwhile, at Martha's house, Rod examines Frank's picture and says that prints on the photo match those found at the crime scenes. The next day, Rod tells Joe about Frank's misdeeds, and Joe admits his son was there last night. Elmer then bursts in with the news that he has seen Frank in a shack on a country road, and when Rod and the police reach the shack, Frank shoots at them. The police are about to use teargas when Joe arrives with Martha and insists on talking with Frank. Frank, however, shoots his father and escapes in a stolen car. After tending to the wounded Joe, Rod and the police chase Frank to the drawbridge, where he is killed climbing the girders with his bedroll full of money. Back on the train, the passenger tells his companion that Rod and Martha got married, and he points out the happy couple.
Robert L. Lippert
Elias H. Reif
Eugene C. Stone
Portions of the film were shot on location in the Feather River area near Sacramento, CA. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, the film was made with the cooperation of the Western Pacific Railroad.