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A Civil War veteran fights to protect a gold shipment from a bitter Confederate officer.
In 1864, during the American Civil War, postmaster general James Fuller arranges for Capt. John Hayes, one of the best Union cavalry officers, to take control of the Overland Stage, which has expanded to transport large gold shipments from California to federal banks in support of the Union, thus enabling the army to buy guns and equipment. Although Hayes is an experienced stage line boss, he reluctantly accepts the job, knowing that the two-thousand mile trip is hazardous and Confederates want to stop the shipments at all costs. On the stage to Julesburg, Colorado, the new Overland headquarters and Hayes' former home, Hayes meets Rod Miller, a returning Union soldier who lost an arm in the war. Stopping at an inn for dinner, Willis, the proprietor and a Southern sympathizer, notices Rod's Union uniform and fills the soldier's pie with salt. After Rod complains and Willis feigns ignorance about the taste of the pie, Hayes orders Willis to eat the rest of Rod's pie as punishment. The coach's next stop is the Miller farm, where Rod's wife Jeannie eagerly greets her husband and tries quickly to adapt to his disability. Upon arriving in Julesburg, Hayes finds that the Overland Stage sign has been taken down and agent Clay Putnam, an old acquaintance, who, unknown to Hayes, is working undercover for the Confederacy, has resigned. When Hayes, suspicious of Clay's motives, asks him what happened, Clay claims that stock tenders stole the horses and supplies, then snidely remarks that he has married Norma, Hayes' former girl friend. Later, Hayes notices that Clay and the bandit Mace are at odds with the town and suspects that they are working together to stop the Union gold from reaching its destination. When Hayes confidently introduces himself to Mace, the bandit shoots the gun out of his holster, to the townspeople's amusement. Soon after, Norma comes to town to pick up Clay, and he jealously accuses her of coming to see Hayes again. When the Millers come to town, one of Mace's men heckles Rod about being a Yankee and "half a man," prompting Jeannie to punch the man. Hayes intercedes on the Millers' behalf, then accompanies them to their ranch. When Mace, who is actually employed by Clay, suggests killing Hayes, Clay warns that the federal government will investigate any murder and instead suggests Mace destroy all the Overland Stage stations. That night, after a humiliated Rod is unable to cock his gun with his one hand, Hayes gives him a sense of worth by suggesting that he and Jeannie run the Julesburg office from their farm. The couple accepts, even though Hayes warns that Mace will try to stop them. Days later, Mace and his men have destroyed several stations and stolen Overland horses up and down the line, while at the Miller farm, Union sympathizers have joined Rod and Jeannie in building station bunkhouses and a corral. Spotting the construction, Mace reports to Clay that the new Julesburg station is being built on Miller's farm. That night, Jeannie tells Hayes that she fears Rod is too easily hurt by insults, then expresses her gratitude to Hayes for giving him a chance to prove his worth. The next day, Hayes and Rod go to Lone Creek Station, where they find Willis, who reluctantly confesses at gunpoint that Russ and several other of Mace's henchmen took the horses to sell to Confederate soldiers. Hayes and Rod then find the horses, but Russ and the others begin a shootout. Rod, having adapted to his handicap, easily fends for himself with his rifle, while Hayes leads the horses out of the valley. Soon after, Hayes rides to Clay's mansion, where he finds Norma, who asks why Hayes did not write to her while he was away. As Hayes takes Norma's hand in friendship, the possessive Clay suddenly returns and states that Norma knows everything about his plans to help the Confederacy, thus establishing that Norma loves him and is loyal to the cause. Hayes replies that the stagecoach line will not be stopped and leaves. Later at the Miller ranch, Russ and his men mistake Rod for Hayes and shoot him. As they set the stage horses free, a shootout ensues in which Hayes kills Russ. When Mace rides back to the Putnam mansion to report the trouble, Norma eavesdrops as Clay and Mace argue over whether to kill those who stand in their way. Back at the Miller ranch, the doctor reports that Rod will not survive, then states that the townspeople, although Confederates, are tired of Clay's violent tactics and will support Hayes when he is ready to fight back. That afternoon, Norma arrives at the ranch to warn Hayes that Mace is preparing to kill him, but Hayes coolly asks her to leave. Near Lone Creek station, Mace and his men ambush a stage carrying gold and women and children passengers, sending it crashing over a cliff. A rancher witnesses the murder and sends his son to inform Hayes. Later, Clay, feeling guilty about the tragedy and how it besmirched the name of the Confederacy, gets increasingly drunk and orders Mace to leave Julesburg. The ruthless bandit, who feels no allegiance to the Confederacy or to Clay, refuses to stop ambushing the gold shipments and then ignites Clay's jealousy by telling him Norma visited Hayes earlier. That night Rod dies and, while Jeannie cries in Hayes's arms at the Putnam mansion, Norma tells Clay she is leaving him because of his part in the stagecoach deaths. When Clay accuses her of marrying him for money and being in love with Hayes, Norma replies that Clay's jealousy is ruining their marriage. After Norma warns him that if Hayes is harmed she will see Clay hanged, a drunken Clay decides to stop Mace, grabs his rifle and races to town. Meanwhile, Hayes walks down Julesburg's Main Street calling out to Mace, who comes out of the hotel accompanied by his men and begins shooting at Hayes. The townsmen come to Hayes's defense, however, and easily out gun the outlaws. When Clay suddenly charges into town yelling for Mace to back off, Mace shoots him and is in turn shot by Hayes. While Clay lies dying, he asks Hayes to take care of Norma. Days later, after Hayes puts Norma on an Eastbound stage, he goes to the Miller ranch and offers to help Jeannie run the station, suggesting that he will return very soon, possibly for good.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1959||Production Date:||
EBX; UCLA has 35mm print (4 of 4) R-Ai-399-2, M20174; AfI
|Color/B&W:||Color (Warnercolor)||Distributions Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono (RCA Sound System)||Production Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
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