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Hired guns Reb Kittredge and Johnny Lake are chased out of state after state until Reb, who wants to settle down on his own ranch, decides to pursue a job possibility in Billings, Montana. Reb sets off alone, and is soon shot at by a stranger, who also kills his horse. Reb chases away his attacker and pockets the spent shells he leaves behind. Reb is eventually picked up by a stagecoach, which also carries pretty Rita Saxon, who spurns his attentions upon recognizing his name. When they reach town, Rita informs her father Dan and his foreman, Curly Mather, who loves her, that the bank would not give them the loan that they need to protect their ranch from Matt Telford. Telford wants the Saxons' land to complete his monopoly on the area real estate. Dan, realizing that Telford has sent for Reb to kill him, finds the sharpshooter in the street and challenges him to a duel. He and Rita are shocked when Reb merely shoots the gun out of Dan's hand instead of killing him. Soon after, Reb learns from the local ammunition storekeeper that only Curly uses the same caliber of bullet that his attacker left behind. Later, Rita visits Reb at his hotel and tries to convince him that she is willing to trade herself for her father's safety. Reb, who knows she is bluffing, sends her away. That night, he goes to Telford's saloon, where his old friend, singer Cora Dufrayne, proposes that Reb kill Telford after she marries the land baron, so she can inherit his estate. When Reb refuses, Cora introduces him to Telford, who will not meet Reb's high payment demands. In the saloon downstairs, Telford watches as Dan, a known card sharp, gambles with Reb for the deed to the ranch. Dan deliberately loses the bet to ensure that Reb will not work for Telford. Reb takes over the ranch, immediately discovering that it is bankrupt and that only a cattle drive will save them. Although Curly and the ranchhands threaten to quit, Dan, whom Reb has hired, convinces them to stay on, and the drive begins the next morning. Out on the range, Reb pushes the men hard and attempts to keep Curly away from Rita. Meanwhile, Cora and Telford hire Johnny, who quickly organizes a stampede of the Saxon cattle, which Reb and his men eventually contain. When their supplies run out soon after, Reb and Rita go to town and there learn that Telford has cancelled their credit. Reb confronts Telford and discovers both Johnny's presence and the fact that a Montana law disallows the transfer of land won in a gamble. Reb storms out and forces the grocer to sell to them, but as soon as they finish loading their wagon, Johnny and three thugs attack Reb. Reluctant to kill his old friend, Johnny nonetheless beats up Reb, breaking his shooting arm. Afterward, Rita ministers to Reb, refusing to answer when he asks if she loves Curly. Over the next few days, Reb continues to move the cattle quickly, to everyone's surprise. After Johnny's men start a brush fire to block their way, Reb announces that they will take the cattle across the mountains, and Curly, who resents being ordered around by Reb, quits. Although the mountains are almost impassible, Reb forges ahead. Curly, however, joins forces with Telford and leads Johnny to the cattle drive. Upon learning that they are approaching, Reb sets up a trap for Johnny's men, luring them into a valley and shooting at them from above. Dan is wounded in the battle, but Johnny's band eventually retreats, allowing Reb to finish the drive the next day. As Reb collects the money, Dan's wound is pronounced minor, and he later reveals to Reb that he lost the ranch purposefully because he also had a wild youth and needed someone to help him go straight, and because he prefers Reb over Curly as a son-in-law. Grateful, Reb asks Dan to hold the deed to the ranch while he settles the score for his wounded arm. At the saloon, even after Johnny pulls his gun, Reb continues to walk toward Telford's office. A shot goes off, and Telford tumbles down the stairs, shot by Johnny to protect Reb's life. The two friends shake hands, and Cora falls into Johnny's arms. Just then, Rita arrives with Dan and, overjoyed to find Reb alive, kisses him while her father smiles contentedly.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||Los Angeles opening: 11 Feb 1953|
|Release Date:||1953||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Distributions Co:||Universal Pictures Co., Inc.|
|Sound:||Production Co:||Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.|
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