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Phantom Valley

Phantom Valley(1948)

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A feud between the homesteaders and the ranchers of Phantom Valley leads Jim Durant, the leader of the homesteaders, to withdraw the group's fund from the county bank. Concerned about Durant's safety, businessman Sam Littlejohn suggests that his daughter Janice accompany Durant on his mission. After withdrawing the money, Janice and Durant are accosted by a band of outlaws, who pull Janice from the wagon and kidnap Durant. When the outlaws see Smiley Burnette, the owner of the town stables, riding in the vicinity, they fear he may have witnessed their assault and decide to pursue him. Drawn by the sound of gunfire, Steve Collins, who has just been appointed marshal of Phantom Valley, comes to Smiley's rescue. Soon after, Janice stumbles from behind a stand of trees and collapses. Steve takes Janice back to town, and there the homesteaders blame Bob Reynolds, the head of the ranchers, for the holdup. Steve rides off to investigate and soon after, is fired upon by the outlaws. Steve slips behind an outcropping of rocks, and immediately afterward, he appears as The Durango Kid, a masked rider for justice, gallops out and eludes the renegades. Upon locating Durant's abandoned wagon on Reynolds' ranch, The Durango Kid accuses the rancher of kidnapping Durant. When one of Reynolds' men draws his gun, The Durango Kid escapes through a window. Back in town, Ben Thiebold, one of the homesteaders, voices his fears that the homesteaders may not be able to pay their taxes because of the robbery, prompting Steve to offer to arrange a loan for them with the Freemont bank. Accompanied by Smiley, Steve rides to Freemont to secure the money. Surmising that either Littlejohn or Ben are behind Durant's abductions, Steve suspects that they will attempt to rob them and therefore hands the envelope containing the money to Smiley for safekeeping. As predicted, a band of outlaws descends from the hills, and Steve and Smiley split up. Smiley hides the envelope in a stand of trees, and after eluding the bandits, he reunites with Steve and they retrieve the money. In town, Ben receives news that oil has been found on his land and decides to use the proceeds to build a town for the homesteaders. As Ben saddles up his horse to spread the good news, however, someone shoots him in the back and kills him. To incite the ranchers, the outlaws launch a new reign of terror. During a stampede, Steve captures Frazer, one of the gang, and takes him to Reynolds' house to prove that the homesteaders are innocent of all wrong doing. Just as Frazer is about to reveal the name of the gang's leader, he is shot in the back. After Chip, a wise-cracking little boy, finds a discarded tip from a cane near Reynolds' house, Steve questions Littlejohn, the only man in town who carries a cane. When Steve finds a rifle concealed in the cane, Littlejohn insists that someone switched his cane, but Steve arrests him anyway. To throw suspicion on the ranchers, one of the renegades plants Durant's watch in Reynolds' wagon. After Reynolds is jailed with Littlejohn, someone throws a key into their cell with a note informing them that a carriage is waiting outside. As the two climb into the carriage, the outlaws, led by Crag Parker, attack but are rebuffed by The Durango Kid. The Durango Kid then discloses that they were both framed and instructs them to keep out of sight until they hear from him. The next day, Steve and Smiley visit Janice with the news that her father is dead. Later, at the gang's hideout, Crag enters and is greeted by Janice, their leader. Steve, who has followed her, enters the room and arrests the gang for Durant's murder. Pulling a knife on Steve, Janice sneers that Littlejohn was not her real father and that she plans to control all the land in the valley. At that moment, Smiley, followed by Littlejohn and Reynolds, bursts into the room. In the confusion, Janice bolts for the door and is shot by Crag. After the ranchers and homesteaders reconcile, Steve appoints Smiley deputy marshal and rides out of town.