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An authoritarian rancher, who rules an Arizona county with her private posse of hired guns, finds herself falling for the new marshal who comes to set things straight.
When Griff Bonnell, an ex-gunslinger now working for the U.S. Attorney General, rides into the town of Tombstone, Arizona, his old friend, Marshal John Chisolm, begs him for help in handling Brockie Drummond. Brockie, a vicious young punk, is the brother of Jessica Drummond, the iron-willed woman who rules the territory. Griff, who has come with his two brothers, Wes and Chico, to arrest fugitive Howard Swain, advises the nearly blind Chisolm to resign and seek medical attention. After the drunken Brockie shoots Chisolm in cold blood and then cackles with glee, however, Griff faces down Brockie with impunity and pummels him unconscious. Wes, who backs Griff as his second gun, is attracted to Louvenia Spanger, the tough-talking, voluptuous daughter of the town's gunsmith, while Chico, the youngest brother who aspires to join the team as third gun, protests about being sent to live on his parents' farm in California. Soon after, Jessica gallops into town and brusquely demands to see the man who assaulted her brother. Ned Logan, the town's ineffectual sheriff who has been bought by Jessica, then meekly releases Brockie from jail. On the ride back to the ranch, Jessica chastises her brother for his irresponsible behavior and demands he turn his guns over to her. In town, meanwhile, sparks fly between Louvenia and Wes when she measures him for a new rifle. At the Drummonds' Dragoons Ranch that night, Jessica is having a dinner party for Logan and her army of forty when Griff arrives with a warrant to arrest Swain, one of her minions, for mail robbery. After ordering Swain to leave peaceably with Griff, Jessica dismisses the others and then admires Griff's gun and offers him Logan's job. Later, in town, Chico, rebellious over being forced to lead the life of a farmer, gets drunk, prompting Griff to declare that the life of a hired gun is soon to become an anachronism. When the jailed Swain informs Logan that he plans to blackmail Jessica unless she arranges for his release, Logan turns his back and smiles smugly as a bullet hurls through the cell window and kills Swain. After pulling the bullet out of Swain's back, Wes shows it to Louvenia, who surmises that it was fired by Charlie Savage, the best shot in the territory. Afterward, Logan tells Jessica that he arranged for Swain's death to save her, and she coldly observes that he has just hanged himself. Soon after, Griff comes to Jessica's ranch in search of Swain and Jessica offers to help him. As they scour the range, a violent cyclone strikes, uprooting trees and blackening the air all around. Thrown from her panicked horse, Jessica is dragged along the ground until Griff comes to her rescue. In the calm following the storm, Jessica recounts how she was forced to forge her independence early in childhood. When Griff recalls shooting his way across the country, Jessica replies that the frontier is finished and asks him to throw in with her. Later, in town, Logan and Savage plot to ambush and kill Griff in Undertakers' Alley. After the brothers put Chico on the California-bound stage, Wes tells Griff that he plans to marry Louvenia and settle down as the new town marshal. Once the stage pulls out, Logan has one of his stooges lure Griff into the alley, where Savage takes aim from his upstairs hotel room. Just as Savage is about to fire, Chico, who has jumped onto the stage, bursts into Savage's room and shoots him, thus saving Griff's life. When Brockie puts Savage's body on display in the undertaker's window, flanked by signs accusing the Bonnell brothers of murder, Griff rides to Jessica's ranch to warn her about curbing her brother. Their discussion is interrupted when Logan fires at Griff and then claims he was only trying to protect Jessica, with whom he has fallen in love. In response, Jessica writes Logan a check and then callously dismisses him. As Griff and Jessica passionately embrace, Griff hears thudding coming from the adjacent room and finds Logan's lifeless body, dangling from the end of a noose. Some time later, Wes and Louvenia are married, and as Griff bends over to kiss the bride, a shot rings out from Brockie's gun, killing Wes. While Louvenia buries her husband, Griff tracks down and apprehends Brockie. Dispirited, Jessica turns over her ranch to the county in return for immunity against all charges. On the day of Brockie's execution, Jessica visits her brother in jail, and he demands that she buy his freedom. After Jessica dispassionately replies that he is going to hang, Brockie pulls a gun from the deputy's holster, then takes Jessica hostage and uses her as a shield to escape. When Brockie dares Griff to shoot, Griff takes deliberate aim and wounds Jessica. After Brockie drops his sister's limp body, Griff brutally empties his pistol into Brockie, thus ending his ten-year record of not killing a man. Some time later, Griff visits Chico, now the town marshal, and tells him that he is going to California. When Chico suggests that Griff ask the now recovered Jessica to join him, Griff replies that she will never forgive him for slaying her brother. As Griff drives his wagon out of town, however, Jessica sees him and follows.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 27 Sep 1957|
|Release Date:||1957||Production Date:||
EBX; UCLA has VHS P-VA7302M; AFI*
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
|Sound:||Production Co:||Globe Enterprises, Inc.|
|Duration(mins):||76, 79-80||Country:||United States|
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