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Pierre of the Plains

Pierre of the Plains(1942)

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In the Northwest woods of Canada, Pierre, a happy-go-lucky French Canadian guide, encounters his crazy Indian friend Crying Loon, drunk on the bad whiskey for which he traded his fur pelts. At the trading post, Pierre chastises the merchant Clerou for bartering whiskey to the Indian for furs. As the two men quarrel, Sgt. Dugan of the Northwest Mounted Police intercedes in the dispute and escorts Pierre to headquarters. There, Inspector Cannody, angered at Pierre's antics, orders him to leave the district. When Pierre responds that he is unable to leave because he plans to marry Daisy Denton, the mistress of the Moose Hill Inn, the inspector, suspecting that Pierre is lying, tells Dugan to accompany him to Moose Hill and make sure that the wedding is to occur. En route, they meet Daisy's younger brother Val, who is awaiting the arrival of his fiancée Clara, and Val informs the sergeant that his sister plans to marry "Jap" Durkin, a guide for the Northwest Mounted Police, on the next day. The next morning, Pierre rides into Moose Hill with an Indian woman and a passel of children in tow and directs them to the mayor's office. After clashing with Clerou once again in the Moose Hill saloon, Pierre visits Daisy, who confides that she is only marrying Durkin out of loneliness. Soon after, the mayor appears, refuses to perform the ceremony because Durkin is already married and then ushers in Durkin's supposed Indian wife and children. Although Durkin exclaims that the charge of bigamy is a frame-up perpetrated by Pierre, Daisy cancels the wedding. Later, in the saloon, a drunken Clerou accosts Celia Wellsby, who has come to Moose Hill on a fishing expedition with her father. Val wrestles Clerou into the hallway, and when Clerou pulls his gun, Val grabs at it and the weapon discharges, killing Clerou. After Dugan arrests Val for Clerou's murder, Pierre schemes to raise money to hire a lawyer for his defense. Upon discovering that the wealthy Wellsby is an inveterate gambler, Pierre hires on as the Wellsbys' guide and asks Daisy to stake him at cards. As Pierre falls deeper and deeper into debt to Wellsby, Celia warns him that her father is an incurable card cheat. Too late, Pierre discovers that Wellsby wears glasses that enable him to read the markings on the back of the deck. Furious upon learning that Pierre has lost her entire savings, Daisy decides to sober up dipsomaniac attorney Noah Glenkins to defend her brother. At the jailhouse, Daisy plies Pete, the deputy, with homemade fried chicken as Noah enters Val's cell to confer with his client. Once the gluttonous Pete is absorbed in gobbling up his chicken, Val and Noah switch clothes and Val exits the cell disguised as the attorney. Pierre and Val then speed off into the night, and once safely outside of town, Pierre climbs out of the car. Just then, Crying Loon runs from the woods, lamenting that Wellsby has broken his leg in a canoe accident. Pierre gives Crying Loon a note for Daisy, asking her to hurry back with her car, and then rushes to Wellsby's side to set his leg. Following Daisy into the woods, Dugan and Durkin stop her for questioning. Soon after, Celia and Crying Loon carry Wellsby out of the woods on a stretcher. When Dugan recognizes Pierre's scarf tied around Wellsby's leg, he and Durkin separate to continue their search. Durkin traces Pierre to a nearby cabin, but Pierre escapes through a trap door and plunges into the river. After Pierre climbs back onto land, he and Durkin fight. Durkin is about to shoot the unarmed Pierre when a rifle-wielding marksman hidden behind the trees shoots Durkin. As Durkin keels into the river, dead, Pierre grabs his gun. Finding Pierre holding the weapon, Dugan arrests him for murder. Cannody presides over the informal hearing, and listens as Crying Loon admits to shooting Durkin. The Indian's confession is discarded when Pierre demonstrates that Crying Loon's name also describes his mental condition. The inspector then rules that Pierre could not have killed Durkin because the autopsy report indicates that the bullet came from the woods and Pierre was on the river side of Durkin. Cannody then declares that Durkin was shot by an unknown assailant and frees Pierre, ordering him out of his district once more. As they leave the court house, Crying Loon tells Pierre that he really did shoot Durkin. Pierre and Daisy then drive off, riding in the back seat of the Wellsbys' car, and as Pierre embraces Daisy, he bursts into his favorite song, "Saskatchewan."