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The Badlanders

The Badlanders(1958)


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In 1898, at the Arizona Territorial Prison in Yuma, convict John McBain saves several prisoners, including Peter Van Hoek, from drowning. Peter, also known as "the Dutchman," then prevents an enraged McBain from attacking a sadistic guard and is awarded an early release for this act. As he prepares to leave, Peter again asserts what he has claimed from the beginning: that he was framed for the gold robbery that landed him in prison. McBain, having served a ten-year sentence for the slaughter of Bascom, a man who swindled him out of his gold-rich land, is released on the same day, but while Peter seems outwardly amiable, McBain is consumed by an angry bitterness. After arriving in nearby Prescott, the marshal, the very man who Peter believes framed him, orders the Dutchman to leave town. Peter promises to go the following evening, and as he ascends to his room, he meets the lovely Ada Winton, whose "gentleman friend," the wealthy Cyril Lounsberry, has locked her in her suite. Later, Peter sneaks into an abandoned section of the Lisbon mine, his former property, and chips off a small chunk of gold. Meanwhile, McBain risks his life to defend a Mexican-American woman named Anita when she is attacked by roughnecks on the street. He then helps her to deliver the baby of a woman who, like every Mexican-American in town, is too poor to afford medical care. By the end of the day, McBain and Anita have fallen deeply in love. After flirting with Ada, Peter, meanwhile, visits the current owner of the Lisbon mine, who turns out to be Lounsberry, a Bostonian who acquired the mine by marrying Bascom's sister. Peter explains his proposal: having been cheated and framed by the manager of a mine he prospected, Peter, with the aid of Lounsberry's money and supplies, wants to remove a hidden but very rich deposit of gold from that mine and then sell the gold to Lounsberry. Although worth $200,000, the gold would cost Lounsberry only $100,000. Unaware that the mine in question is the Lisbon, the mine owner agrees to the plan. Sample, Lounsberry's henchman, warns Peter to avoid using Mexicans for the job, but Peter states that he trusts Mexicans. "I've even forgotten the Alamo," he remarks. Because the mine is on land once owned by McBain, Peter hires him to assist with the job and offers to share the money with him. Also hired is Vincente, a skilled "powder monkey," who worked with Peter years before. On the following afternoon, Peter, Vincente and McBain enter the deserted mine shaft and begin setting caps of explosive powder near Peter's secret gold deposit. The explosion, timed to coincide with the daily blasting of the Lisbon, yields several huge bags of ore-rich rock, which the men quickly haul outside. Vincente is injured during a sudden cave-in, and it is only with great difficulty that the three escape to a waiting wagon. They then deliver the gold to Lounsberry, who has ordered the crooked deputy to seize the gold at gunpoint and return the men to prison. The deputy shoots McBain in the shoulder, but the three manage to escape to Anita's shack with the gold. Peter bids farewell to Anita and McBain and rides away, but Lounsberry and his thugs begin shooting at him just as an annual Mexican fiesta gets underway in the center of town. McBain rushes out to help his friend, but Lounsberry's men surround them. Anita quickly rallies the celebrants to their aid, and soon fireworks fill the plaza with smoke and confusion. The thugs are disarmed and captured by the mob, thereby enabling Anita to flee with McBain and Peter. After promising to meet them in Texas for his share of the money, Peter steps aboard the departing stagecoach, where he is greeted by the beautiful Ada.