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The Lone Prairie

The Lone Prairie(1942)

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Lucky Dawson, his partner Bob and their ranch hands are on their way to Rimrock to buy a herd of cattle from rancher Jeff Halliday when they see a gang of bandits attack a stagecoach. Lucky and his men ride to the rescue, and after apprehending the outlaws, they meet the occupants of the coach, Joan Halliday, the rancher's daughter who has just returned home from school back East, and Cannonball, an itinerant cowpoke. During the shootout, one of the outlaws is wounded and later dies, and so Lucky and his men escort the stage and their prisoners back to town. There they are welcomed by Joan's father and the sheriff, who takes custody of the outlaws. When Halliday invites Lucky and his friends to stay at the ranch, Joan and Lucky climb into a buckboard and start out for home while Bob follows behind, leading Lucky's horse. In town, Hank Barstow, a crooked lawyer who is in league with Lafe Kinney, the unscrupulous owner of the Land and Water Company and mastermind of the bandits, warns Kinney that Lucky and the other witnesses to the robbery must be eliminated if he is to win acquittal for the jailed gang members. In response, Kinney orders Ed Slade, his henchman, to ambush Lucky and Joan, but when Bob hears the sound of gunshots, he rides to the rescue and disperses the bushwackers. Back in town, Kinney and Barstow scheme to foreclose on the Halliday ranch because they have learned that the railroad plans to build a line through the land. Their discussion is interrupted when Cannonball enters Kinney's office to inquire about buying some land near the Halliday ranch, and Kinney informs him that there is none available. Back at the ranch, Lucky pays Halliday for the cattle with some crumpled bills, and when Kinney, accompanied by Slade, appears at the ranch, Halliday tells him that he now has the money to pay off the note that Kinney holds on the land. When Lucky recognizes Slade as one of the stage robbers, Halliday orders him and Kinney off his property. Upon their return to town, Kinney instructs Slade to steal Halliday's bankroll so that he will be unable to pay off the note. Back at the ranch, Cannonball is offering to buy a parcel of land from Halliday when several masked riders break down the door and demand the rancher's money. Quickly darting out the door, Cannonball jumps on a horse and is pursued by the bandits. When Lucky and Joan hear the sound of gunshots, Lucky goes to investigate and sends Joan to find Bob. After Bob and the boys drive off Cannonball's pursuers, Lucky, Joan and Cannonball return to the ranch house. There, Halliday questions Cannonball about his motives for buying a piece of worthless land and Cannonball then informs him of the railroad's plans. Finally understanding Kinney's eagerness to foreclose on the Halliday ranch, Lucky begins to suspect that Kinney was involved in the rancher's robbery and schemes to retrieve the wrinkled bills to prove his guilt. Soon after, Cannonball strides into Kinney's office and hints that he knows about the railroad's plans. When Kinney offers him $2,000 to keep silent, Cannonball turns the wrinkled bills over to the sheriff and identifies it as the stolen money. After the sheriff impounds the bills and arrests Kinney, Barstow rides to Slade's hideout to warn him that he must retrieve the evidence or they will all go to jail. On the night of the big town dance, Slade and his men break Kinney out of jail, and Slade, whose brother was killed by Lucky in the stagecoach gunfight, kidnaps Joan in revenge. When Lucky learns of Joan's kidnapping, he forces Barstow to reveal the location of Slade's hideout. As Lucky and the sheriff assemble a posse, Slade returns to the hideout and after shooting Kinney, assumes leadership of the gang. When the posse reaches the hideout, Slade offers to trade Joan for Lucky, and the cowboy agrees and rides alone to Slade's shack. There, Lucky and Slade fight, and after knocking the outlaw unconscious, Lucky grabs Joan and takes cover just as the sheriff and his men attack the hideout and force the bandits to surrender. In gratitude, Halliday offers Cannonball a parcel of land, and all ends happily as the group rides back to the ranch, singing.