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The Phantom Stagecoach

The Phantom Stagecoach(1957)

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When the stagecoach carrying Glen Hayden is attacked by bandits and its driver, Sam Clayton, is shot, Hayden leaps from the coach and shoots at the assailants, sending them scurrying into the hills. Hayden then guides the coach, now bearing the slain driver and a dead bandit, into town. There, he is met by Joe Patterson, the owner of the stage line, who has suffered three holdups in the last two months. Across the street, Martin Maroon, Patterson's competitor and the man behind the robberies, schemes to drive his rival out of business. Despite his misfortune, Patterson defiantly refuses to close down his stage line and offers Hayden a job riding shotgun. Hayden suggests that they free the dead bandit's horse and follow it home, but Harry Farrow, one of Maroon's henchmen, sneaks into the stable and shoots the animal. Hearing gunfire, Hayden hurries to the stable and is wounded by Farrow, who escapes after stampeding the other horses. Hayden's wound is treated by Maroon's niece Fran, thus engendering the jealousy of her suitor, Tom Bradley, who works for Patterson. Upon learning of Sam's death, Tom, who is secretly in league with Maroon, begins to experience feelings of remorse. Later, at the gang's hideout, Tom, disgruntled by the killing, announces that he wants to quit, but Maroon convinces him that the armored stagecoach that Tom designed will curtail the violence by intimidating Patterson's men. After Tom departs, Maroon confides to Farrow that he plans to frame Tom for the raids if anything goes wrong. As subterfuge, Maroon gives some of his business to Patterson. With Hayden riding shotgun, Tom drives the coach to the pass, where Farrow and the others wait in ambush. After Tom boasts that he plans to marry Fran and join Maroon's company after Patterson goes out of business, Hayden's suspicions are aroused. When the armored coach appears, Hayden orders Tom to speed up, thus leading the coach into a tangle of rocks that snag its axle. After escaping their attackers, Hayden instructs Tom to drive back to town because one of the passengers has been wounded. Determined to track down the phantom stagecoach, Hayden rides back to the pass, prompting Maroon to send Farrow to eliminate him. In town, meanwhile, Sheriff Ned Riorden tells Patterson that he has decided to join Hayden in his quest to track down the stagecoach. Overhearing the conversation, Tom saddles up to warn Maroon. At the pass, Hayden confides to the sheriff that he is a special investigator hired by Wells Fargo to look into the attacks. Just then, Farrow and his men gallop down from the hills, guns blazing, and pursue Hayden and the sheriff. Deciding to split up, the sheriff sends Hayden back to town for help while he decoys their assailants. After shooting the sheriff off his horse, Farrow takes him to the gang's hideout and shoots him in the back. Sickened, Tom attacks Farrow, after which Maroon threatens to turn the tortured Tom over to the law unless he cooperates. After instructing Farrow to drive the phantom coach over the state line the following day, Maroon sends Fran into town on an errand to get her out of the way, and she arrives just as Hayden is forming a posse to question Maroon. Upon hearing Hayden's accusations about her uncle, Fran insists on joining the posse. As Maroon, Farrow and Tom start their journey toward the state line, Tom seizes control of the stage and heads back to town. Maroon and the others pursue him, sending the stage crashing into the rocks and blocking the trail. Just then, the posse arrives and in the ensuing shootout, Tom wrestles Maroon's rifle from his hand. After the outlaws are apprehended, Tom admits his complicity and is arrested with the others. Grateful, Patterson offers to sell his stage line to Wells Fargo if Hayden agrees to stay on as manager. After Hayden accepts, Fran announces her plans to go back East.