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The Last Musketeer

The Last Musketeer(1952)

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Rex Allen and his men, representing the Cattlemen's Association, go to Taskerville looking for cattle to buy. Shortly after arriving, Rex rescues a book-toting water diviner, Slim Pickens, from bullies, and the ruckus brings Rex in contact with Lem Shaver, a rancher who agrees to sell Rex his remaining cattle. Rex learns from Lem that the deceased founder of Taskerville was a man who sought peace and justice for the inhabitants of the valley, but that the founder's son, Russ Tasker, is bringing the valley to ruin by creating an artificial water shortage. Tasker owns the only water source in the valley, an artesian well, and has priced the water beyond the ranchers' ability to pay, causing their cattle to die. Meanwhile, in a nearby pasture, one of Lem's cattle is killed for food by the hungry, young Johnny Becker. Johnny's father Matt is ashamed to be driven to such desperation, and laments the fact that he must keep the watering hole Johnny has found a secret from neighbors for fear that Tasker would appropriate it. As the Beckers ride home with a water barrel and the cow, Tasker's men ambush them, and the Beckers race to their house in the midst of gunfire. During the attack, Tasker admits to one of his henchmen that he plans to dam the valley, then build a power plant and make a fortune providing electricity for cities. When Rex and Slim ride up to stop the shooting, Tasker claims they are trying to arrest the Beckers for stealing Lem's cow. The sheriff, who has been brought by Lem, feels obligated to arrest Johnny, even though Lem and Rex will not press charges. Sue, Johnny's sweetheart, comes out of the house to say that Matt has been shot, while Johnny, following the dying Matt's instructions, escapes through the cellar. Rex and his friends search for and find the Beckers' watering hole, which is in a cave, and when Tasker appears at Matt's memorial service offering to buy everyone's ranches, Rex tells him they now have their own water source, and can drive him out of business. Tasker pretends to negotiate, but Johnny appears and tries to duel with Tasker. Rex intervenes and fights Tasker, and Johnny gets away again. The sheriff then forms a posse and unleashes Johnny's dog, General, who leads them straight to his master. From a hiding place among the rocks, Johnny shoots at the men and challenges Tasker. Rex tries approaching Johnny alone, but Johnny knocks him unconscious and steals his horse. When the others in the posse realize Johnny is gone, Tasker insists that Rex be arrested for aiding the escape. In jail, Rex studies Slim's geology books and maps and forms a plan to help the ranchers. Meanwhile, Sue meets Johnny for a final goodbye and accuses him of abandoning Rex. Chastened, Johnny holds up the jail to free Rex, who promises the sheriff he will return in twenty-four hours. Rex then instructs Lem to send the ranchers to the cave with water tanks, while he, Slim and Johnny go to Tasker's well. After sneaking the dynamite past the guards, they find the plans for the power plant Tasker wants to build. Tasker's men fight them, but Rex sets off the dynamite, which dislodges an underground fault and causes the well to lower. Tasker orders his men to kill all the ranchers, as well as Rex, who rides to the cave in time to see the water begin to gush in. The ranchers fill their tanks and head for their ranches, but encounter an oil fire on the roads that has been set by Tasker's men. The ranchers keep moving, dodging the flames as well as gunfire. Rex pursues Tasker into town and fights him under a statue honoring Tasker's father. When the statue is disturbed by some frightened horses, it falls on Tasker and kills him. Later, Tasker's henchmen are tried and put permanently behind bars. Johnny, who is now married to Sue, gives General to Rex in gratitude. After Rex tells his men they have more cattle to buy, he rides away.