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Riding the Wind

Riding the Wind(1942)

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A siege of drought places the cattle ranchers of a small New Mexican town at the mercy of Henry Dodge, owner of the Dodge Land and Water Company. Dodge has dammed the river, and under the law, owns the water rights to the valley. To combat Dodge, the ranchers, led by Clay Stewart and Burt MacLeod, hire Jackson, a lawyer who promises to try to overturn Dodge's claim in appeals court. The process will require a month to complete, however, and the cattle need water immediately. When hot-tempered Burt suggests dynamiting Dodge's dam for water, Clay proposes that the ranchers dig wells and install windmills designed by Ezra Westfall. The ranchers decide to send for Ezra, but as he and his daughter Joan drive their wagon to Clay's ranch, Dodge's men bushwack them and crash their wagon and equipment into a rocky canyon. Ezra and Joan walk the rest of the way to Clay's ranch on foot, and soon after they arrive, Jones, a rancher who sold his land to Dodge, visits Clay. Suspicious of Jones's motives, Clay and his friends, Smokey and Whopper, decide to salvage Ezra's equipment and bring it to the ranch. After fending off an ambush of Dodge's men, Clay, Smokey and Whopper deliver the equipment and begin to assemble the windmills. Concluding that Dodge will try to sabotage the mills, Clay diverts him by asking Jones to join in a raid of the dam that night. While Dodge and his men await Clay's attack, the ranchers hide the equipment in a hay wagon and move it during a hayride to the MacLeod ranch. Meanwhile, at the dam, Clay switches horses with Jones, and when Dodge's men mistake Jones for Clay and shoot at him, Clay gallops off to his ranch. Realizing that he has been duped, Dodge decides to destroy the windmills by setting Clay's workshop on fire, but the cowhands douse the flames in time to save the ranch. To stall Dodge until the windmills are operational, the ranchers pretend that they are defeated and plan to buy water from him. Their tactic fools Dodge and soon the windmills have been completed and are delivering water. As the ranchers celebrate their victory, Dodge and his gang dynamite the windmills. The next day, Burt and the others are bent on revenge and ride to Dodge's office. Burt's sister Martha alerts Clay, and as he rides to town, he meets the U. S. marshal who has come to serve Dodge with a restraining order. They all hurry to town, where a confrontation is prevented when the marshal presents Dodge with orders to release water from his dam. Out of spite, Dodge decides to blow up the dam and flood the valley. Clay and the other ranchers race to stop him, and as Clay subdues Dodge, Whopper and Smokey force Jones to confess that Dodge bribed the judge to assign him the water rights. With Dodge under arrest, the ranchers procure their life-giving water, and Ezra and Joan ride on to build more windmills.