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Cattle Queen

Cattle Queen(1951)

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In 1869, in the lawless territory of Wyoming, Queenie Hart, who took over her family's ranch after her parents were killed by Indians years earlier, arrives outside of the town of Big Bend with her foreman, Alkali, and their large cattle herd. They are pleased to be the first herd at the pass, because cattle rail cars into Big Bend, and loading pens in the town, are limited. Just as she approaches the pass, however, another cowboy, Bill Foster, appears with his herd and challenges her to a race. Queenie quickly stampedes her cattle in order to beat him, and an impressed Bill is forced to wait for the next train. In town later, rancher Duke Drake, hoping to control the territory's fertile grazing land, discovers that Queenie is approaching and plots with crooked veterinarian and cattle inspector Doc Hodges to block her access to the pens. When she arrives and loads her cows into the pens, Doc orders her to leave, reminding her that women have no rights in Wyoming. Just then, Bill appears with his young sidekick, The Tucson Kid, and threatens Doc, expertly shooting the gun out of the hand of Doc's goon. Queenie thanks Bill and, upon learning that his cattle are still stranded outside town, arranges to buy his herd, thereby fattening her holdings and protecting him from possible loss. As Bill turns to leave, Alkali urges Queenie to hire him, but reacts with rue when Queenie offers Bill the position of foreman. That night, Bill and Tucson join Queenie's camp, where she learns that Bill took Tucson under his wing after the boy was orphaned. The next day, eastern cattle buyer Armstrong arrives in town, but Doc diagnoses black leg disease among some of Queenie's stock and quarantines both of her herds. When the ranchhands move them to a new pen, however, Tucson notes black paint on the posts and realizes Doc has faked the outbreak. Bill immediately confronts Duke in his saloon office, and when a fight breaks out, Duke's henchmen run in to help, almost overwhelming Bill until Queenie, Tucson and Alkali arrive to rescue him. The next day, Queenie is gratified to overhear Bill explain to Tucson, who has just fought a ranchhand who claimed Bill was hiding behind Queenie's skirts, that a man is only as good as the woman beside him. The next day, however, he disappears, and she worries that she has scared him away. He is actually on the Wells Fargo stage to Cheyenne to enlist help in fighting Duke, but Duke arranges a trap to frame him. He plants his goon, Mac, on board the stage and has his men shoot the driver and steal the bankroll. When the ambush begins, Bill jumps out of the stage onto a gang member's horse and rushes to Cheyenne. There, he explains the problem to Marshal Houston and the prison warden, and convinces them that he must have the help of tough convicts Blackie Malone, Shotgun Thomson and Bad Bill Smith. Meanwhile, Duke blows up Queenie's watering hole, leaving her with no water for her herd. Then, when Bill returns, Duke arrests him for murder and theft, and responds to Queenie's demand for a fair trial by packing the saloon with his cronies and holding an impromptu hearing. The corrupt judge and jury is about to convict Bill when Queenie bursts in with all the town's women and announces that women have just earned the right to vote and have elected Bill sheriff. Although the judge ignores the women, the three convicts then burst in and escort Bill to safety. Later, Bill entices the criminals to act as his deputies by promising them an eventual pardon. They agree, but when Duke's saloon girl, Rosa, seduces Blackie, he quickly turns against Bill. That night, Queenie commands her men to pray for rain, and as they all recite the Lord's Prayer, a storm begins and fills the water hole. In town the next day, Bill tries to dissuade Bad Bill from picking pockets, and then receives a note asking him to meet a stranger on the outskirts of town. There, he finds the recovered stage driver, who agrees to testify against Duke. Upon returning to town, Bad Bill and Shotgun overhear Blackie swear to kill Bill, and they shoot him. When Armstrong later agrees to buy Queenie's cattle, Queenie rings the herd through the center of town, so Duke cannot stampede it. The drive results in a shootout between Queenie's men and Duke's, during which both Duke and Tucson are killed. Days later, while Alkali reads Bad Bill and Shotgun their letters of pardon, Bill announces his retirement to Queenie. She at first accuses him of being afraid of working for a woman, but when he walks away, she begs to accompany him, and he kisses her.