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West of Dodge City

West of Dodge City(1947)

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Henry Hardison, an unscrupulous Silver Bend businessman, offers to buy John Avery's ranch, claiming that he wants to turn the property into a reservoir for a power project. After Avery, who opposes the project, rejects Hardison's offer, the two men leave on the next stagecoach. Once outside of town, Hardison's men ambush the stage, while inside the coach, Hardison pulls a gun and shoots Avery. Steve Ramsey, a surveyor hired by Avery, witnesses the ambush and drives off the attackers. Feigning a fear of weapons and violence, Hardison pretends to be an innocent victim of the outlaws. However, when the stage returns to River Bend, Smiley Burnette, the local newspaper publisher, accuses Hardison of engineering Avery's murder. In his defense, Hardison claims that Avery had finally endorsed the project after conferring with a surveyor. Soon after, Steve enters the newspaper office and, after informing Smiley that he was the surveyor hired by Avery, declares that Avery never acquiesced to the project. When Smiley prints a disclaimer about Hardison's story of the surveyor, Hardison and his accomplice Borger storm into the newspaper office and demand that Smiley turn the paper over to them. Just then, The Durango Kid, the masked champion of justice and Steve's alter-ego, appears and prevents them from consummating the deal. Soon after, Steve conducts a survey of the ranch with Hod Barker, a close friend of the Avery family. As Steve declares that the ranch will never be able to serve as a natural reservoir, Hardison's gang, bent on suppressing his opinion, descends from the hills. Steve quickly disappears into the trees, then re-emerges as The Durango Kid and disperses the outlaws. Soon after, Avery's brash son Danny agrees to sell his share of the ranch to Hardison, but Anne, his sister, refuses to relinquish her half. To coerce Anne into selling, Hardison frames Danny for robbing the loan office. Although Danny is jailed for robbery, Anne, unable to afford her brother's legal defense, still steadfastly refuses to sell the ranch. When Hardison launches a campaign of terror against the ranch, however, Anne considers giving into him, causing a frustrated Hod to break Danny out of jail. After The Durango Kid orders Hardison to leave town, Hardison pretends to accede to his demand, all the while planning to blow up the river and flood the ranch. After the sheriff locates Danny and Hod's hideout, Anne rides to warn them about the flood, unaware that Dirk and Flint, two of Hardison's men, are following her. As Dirk and Flint fire at Hod and Danny, Steve, drawn by the sound of gunshots, rides to the rescue. When Smiley warns Steve that he witnessed Hardison burying blasting powder along the river's north ridge, the three race to stop him, arriving just in time to see Hardison deploying the explosives, thus blowing up the river and flooding the valley. After The Durango Kid, Smiley and Danny take refuge on high ground, The Durango Kid spots Hardison clinging for his life to a boulder and apprehends him. Once the river is dammed, Danny is exonerated, and Steve, his mission completed, rides off.