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Don't Fence Me In

Don't Fence Me In(1945)

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Spread Magazine investigative photographer Toni Ames is tricked by her editor, Jack Chandler, into going out West to investigate the legend of Wildcat Kelly, an infamous outlaw who was killed forty years earlier. Although a $50,000 reward was paid to the two men who brought in Kelly's body, an old man named Sam McCoy has told one of Chandler's reporters that the man who was buried was not Kelly. Toni begins her investigation in a small town called Twin Wells, where she meets an old cowpoke, "Gabby" Whitaker, who claims that he knew Kelly. Toni follows Gabby to the R Barr Dude Ranch, which he runs with his pal, Roy Rogers, who quickly becomes irritated by Toni's snooping. As the days pass, Toni deduces that Gabby is Kelly, and despite Roy's pleas that Gabby has gone straight, and that to expose him now will only cause trouble, Toni prints the story with photographs of Gabby. Governor Thompson, upset that state monies were falsely paid for a reward, orders that Gabby be investigated. Later, when an unidentified gunman shoots and wounds Gabby, Roy accuses Toni of endangering the old man's life. Hoping to identify Gabby's attacker, Roy leaks the news that Gabby is dead and holds a funeral for him. Cliff Anson, the man who shot Gabby, attends the funeral, and with the aid of Toni's photography, Roy and the others track him to the Westward Ho Resort. Roy, Toni and their friends then obtain jobs as entertainers at the resort in order to investigate the connection between Anson and Henry Bennett, the resort's owner. When Anson sees Gabby at the resort, he goes to Bennett in a panic. Bennett kills him and implicates Gabby in the crime because the gun he used was identified as Kelly's forty years before. Roy and Gabby elude the police, however, then go to see Sheriff Ben Duncan, who confirms that the gun was sold to Bennett after Kelly was buried. Gabby, who had staged his own death as a means to go straight, was not aware that Bennett and his accomplice, McCoy, had substituted a real body for Gabby's sack of sand. As Gabby is explaining the situation to the sheriff, Bennett and his gang arrive, but Roy, Gabby and their men overpower the criminals and bring them to justice. Soon after, Gabby discusses his former life of crime with the governor and reveals that he donated all the stolen money to various charities. As the governor is questioning Gabby about a sum of money not accounted for, Roy reveals that the money was used to buy the Westward Ho in the governor's name for state employees. As the employees are applauding the governor's apparent generosity, Gabby takes a photograph of Roy and Toni singing together.