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The Mysterious Desperado

The Mysterious Desperado(1949)


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When Arizona cowboy Chito Rafferty receives word that his uncle, rancher Manuel Bustamante, has died without leaving a will, he and his best friend, Tim Holt, leave for California to help settle the estate. Upon arriving in the bustling town of Santo Domingo, the cowboys go to see Elias P. Stevens, the local land administrator who is handling the Bustamante property, but are told by his clerk, Whittaker, that Stevens is not available. Later, while dining in the town's saloon, Tim and Chito are accosted by "Honest" John Jordan and his partner, Bart Barton, land sharks who have been sent by Whittaker to "take care of" Chito. Although Jordan and Barton try to kill Chito during the ensuing brawl, Tim gets the better of both of them. Tim and Chito then ride to the abandoned Bustamante ranch, where Chito is attacked from behind by a man who turns out to be Chito's cousin, Ramon Bustamante. After Tim subdues Ramon, who is Manuel's son, Ramon accuses his cousin of trying to steal his inheritance. Stevens and Sheriff Anders then ride up and demand custody of Ramon, who they claim murdered his father, but Ramon escapes. That night at the ranch, Tim and Chito are visited by Ramon's devoted sweetheart Luisa, who explains that Ramon and his father argued bitterly about their romance because she was not of "pure blood," but insists that Ramon did not kill Manuel. Just then, an unseen gunman fires shots at the house, and Tim concludes that Chito was the intended target. At the land office the next morning, Stevens explains to Tim and Chito that, because Ramon is a wanted felon, he cannot inherit the sprawling Bustamante ranch. Consequently, as the only other living Bustamante, Chito will inherit the property as soon as he produces proof of his identity. After leaving town, Tim and Chito are followed by Jordan and Barton, who, acting on Stevens' orders, shoot at Chito. Chito is hit in the leg, but Tim shoots at Barton, seriously wounding him. Tim delivers Chito to a mission, where Luisa and a priest tend to his leg. Suspecting that Ramon is responsible for the attack, Tim then asks Luisa to set up a meeting with the fugitive, promising that if Ramon proves his innocence, he will not turn him in for Manuel's killing. Luisa's secret signals to the hidden Ramon are detected by a sheriff's informant, and during Tim's meeting with Ramon, a posse surrounds the ranch and captures Ramon. After he accuses Tim of betraying him, Ramon is taken to town, where Stevens has formed a citizens' committee to assure his quick execution. Stevens also orders Jordan to hide the wounded Barton at his ranch to prevent him from confessing in his weakened state. Later, as Tim and the recuperated Chito are leaving the mission, they spot Jordan riding by and follow him to his ranch. There, the gun-wielding Tim and Chito surprise the outlaws, but Jordan manages to escape on his horse. While Chito takes Barton to the Bustamante ranch, Tim tracks Jordan to town and sees him with Stevens. Tim then prevents Ramon's hanging and delivers his cousin to his ranch, where Chito forces Barton to reveal Stevens' guilt in Manuel's murder and his plans to take over the Bustamante ranch. At that moment, the ranch is surrounded by Stevens and his men, and a gunfight ensues. After Tim manages to flee on his horse, he directs the sheriff and his posse to the ranch. There Tim knocks out Stevens as he tries to escape, and the posse overwhelms the remaining outlaws. Later, after witnessing Ramon and Luisa's wedding, Chito and Tim return to their Arizona home.