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A militiaman falls for a Frenchwoman and tries to protect her people from land grabbers.
In the early nineteenth century, after Congress has granted four townships in Alabama to a group of Napoleon's exiled soldiers, the men and their families, under the leadership of Col. Georges Geraud and Gen. Paul DeMarchand, settle Demopolis, a town two hundred miles from Mobile. One day in Mobile, at the end of the War of 1812, Kentucky soldier John Breen tries to evade the rest of his regiment, who are marching across Alabama on their way to Kentucky, by seeking shelter in the carriage of DeMarchand's beautiful daughter Fleurette. Breen believes that he is in the clear, until he sees his friend, Willie Paine, lagging behind the regiment. Sure that Willie will recognize him, Breen, who has fallen instantly in love with Fleurette, drives away with her. While the couple is parked on a road outside town, Fleurette's fiancé, Blake Randolph, Randolph's friend, George Hayden, and Geraud approach along with the sheriff, and Fleurette explains to Breen that the carriage he has commandeered belongs to Randolph. The sheriff accuses Breen of assaulting a man at a tavern, but is prevented from arresting him by the arrival of the Kentucky regiment. Ten days later, Breen arrives with his regiment in Demopolis, and is invited to attend a soiree to celebrate Fleurette's engagement to Randolph. While Breen and Fleurette become reacquainted, a brawl breaks out between the rivermen, who are controlled by Hayden, and the soldiers. From Geraud, Breen learns that local people resent the French settlers. The next morning, the regiment leaves without Willie, who has been instructed by Capt. Dan Carroll to stay behind and keep Breen out of trouble. Later, Breen tries to visit Fleurette at home, but the butler turns him away. A few minutes later, Randolph calls, and Breen sees him admitted without hesitation. A disappointed Breen rides into town, where he tries to smooth over a disagreement between Willie and some rivermen at Hayden's tavern. Hayden demands that Willie and Breen leave Demopolis, but Ann Logan, Hayden's mistress, interrupts their dispute, claiming that Breen is a surveyor she met years earlier. Some time later, Ann delivers some surveying equipment to the cabin shared by Breen and Willie and explains that the equipment belonged to her fiancé, who was killed when his cabin burned down in what a jury determined was a drunken accident. She then persuades Breen that Hayden had actually arranged for the surveyor's murder. Breen agrees to help Ann bring Hayden to justice, and the following morning, he and Willie set up the equipment in a nearby field. Randolph spots Breen and immediately consults with Hayden. When Randolph worries that Breen will uncover their scheme to steal the French land grant, Hayden reveals that his cohort, Beau Merritt, has Breen under observation. Meanwhile, when Breen discovers a boundary marker in the field, he is shot and wounded. Breen and Willie proceed to a nearby cabin, where a young seamstress named Marie dresses his wound. Just then, Fleurette arrives to deliver her unfinished wedding dress to Marie. Before Breen can make much headway with Fleurette, Randolph also appears, but Breen learns that there will be a party that evening at the DeMarchand home and decides to attend, even though he has not been uninvited. There, Randolph wanrs him that the marriage will proceed despite his attempts to stop it. Later, however, Breen asks Fleurette to marry him, and she accepts. That night, after the party, Breen comes for Fleurette and finds DeMarchand waiting for him. DeMarchand explains that the only hope the unpopular French immigrants have for success in their new country is to forge alliances with influential Americans like Randolph. Temporarily unsettled, Breen agrees not to take Fleurette away that evening. When Breen returns home, Geraud is playing chess with Willie. He shows the men a letter from the former surveyor and a copy of the grant. Expressing his fears that some of the French may have settled outside the boundaries, he asks Breen to investigate. When Geraud reveals that the letter arrived only a few days earlier, Breen realizes that Ann's story must have been a lie. In town, Breen sneaks into Ann's room, where he overhears her and Beau plot to steal $100,000 from Randolph. When Breen demands an explanation, Beau reveals that thanks to Randolph and Hayden's machinations, the French have settled on land that does not belong to them, and Hayden's men plan to drive them from town in the morning. Breen tries to expose Hayden and Randolph to DeMarchand, but DeMarchand is skeptical of his claims and allows Hayden to arrest him. The day of the wedding, Fleurette informs Randolph that she is in love with Breen. Meanwhile, on the chance that Breen was telling the truth, DeMarchand has ordered the French settlers to congregate at his house. Learning that Hayden's men are actually attacking the French, Randolph is outraged and orders him to stop his men. Hayden then tricks Randolph into sharing Breen's cell, leaving the door unlatched. Realizing that Hayden intends to shoot them when they try to escape, Randolph, who genuinely loves Fleurette, knocks Breen unconscious and takes the bullet meant for him. Breen then succeeds in evading Hayden. After he discovers Ann's body near Randolph's empty safe, he rides to DeMarchand's to join the fray. Breen kills Hayden, but the rivermen are gaining ground on the outnumbered French when the Kentucky regiment, summoned by Willie, drives them back. Some time later, Breen and Fleurette are married.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: week of 19 Sep 1949|
|Release Date:||1949||Production Date:||
A John Wayne Production
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Republic Pictures Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Republic Pictures Corp.|
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