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Prince of the Plains

Prince of the Plains(1949)

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Remind Me

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Sometime after outlaws attack a stagecoach and kill its two elderly passengers near the town of Owensville, Bat Masterson, a young cowboy, finds the dead body of Owensville banker Ned T. Owens slumped over his office desk. Just then, an unseen assailant fires shots into Owens' body and rides off, pursued by Bat. Bat is himself pursued by Sheriff Hank Hartley, but both the assailant, Reagan, and Bat elude capture. Later, at the bank, Hank speculates with the bank's surviving shareholders, including photographer Jim Taylor and bank clerk Sam Phillips, about the killer, and all agree that Owens, who had been accused of using violence against ranchers to whom he had lent money, was most likely murdered by an angry rancher. Unknown to Hank, Taylor is the outlaws' leader and killed Owens as part of a plan to take control of the bank. Taylor knows that Owens had a life insurance policy that will be paid to the shareholders as long as Owens' son Tom does not claim it, and so orders Reagan and his gang to ambush the stage on which Tom is traveling. During the attack, the stage careens off a cliff and lands in a river, and Tom is presumed dead, both by the outlaws and by Bat, who witnessed the ambush. Hank then arrives and confronts Bat at gunpoint. Bat insists that Owens was already dead at his desk when the shots were fired and convinces Hank to allow him to impersonate Tom, whom the townspeople have never seen. After Hank introduces Taylor and Sam to "Tom," Taylor rides to Reagan's hideout and demands an explanation. To his surprise, Reagan presents him with the real Tom, who survived the fall and believes that Reagan is his benefactor. In Owensville, meanwhile, Bat begins to suspect Taylor and sneaks into his photography shop to investigate. After he comes across Owens' insurance policy, he is spotted by Reagan and his cohort, Keller, who chase him out of town and shoot at him. Later, at his shop, Taylor recalls having seen Bat's distinctive horse in a photograph he stole from the elderly passengers' belongings and realizes that Bat is the dead couple's son. Taylor also surmises that Bat saw the insurance policy and, to prevent him from using it against him, shows up at the sheriff's office with Tom and claims that he was guarding the $50,000 policy for Tom. Once Bat is exposed as an impostor, Hank is compelled to arrest him, and Tom, spurred on by Taylor, begins calling in the ranchers' loans, driving many of them into foreclosure. Angry and desperate, some of the ranchers kidnap Tom, intending to lynch him, but Hank and Bat, who has been temporarily freed by Hank, rescue him. Now convinced of Taylor's duplicity, Tom agrees to help Bat and Hank catch Taylor stealing the insurance money from the bank. Tom accepts Taylor's invitation to look at photos of ranchers involved in the lynching attempt, while Reagan and Keller force Sam, Taylor's reluctant accomplice, to accompany them to the bank. Sensing trouble, Sam's daughter Julie follows them and is apprehended by Reagan, who takes her to Taylor's. There, Reagan informs Taylor that Sam was warned by Tom to stay away from the bank, and realizing that he has been set up, Taylor takes Tom hostage and orders Reagan and Keller to go ahead with the robbery. Reagan forces Sam to remove the insurance money from the bank safe and then shoots him. Bat and Hank, who have been watching the bank from the jail, are about to pursue the outlaws when Reagan jumps them. While Reagan holds them at gunpoint, the wounded Sam stumbles in, implicates Taylor in Owens murder, then dies. In the ensuing confusion, Bat shoots Reagan. Aware that Taylor has taken Julie and Tom to Reagan's hideout, Bat and Hank race there and, after a gunfight, free Julie and Tom. Bat then goes after Taylor, who falls off a high rock to his death while fighting with Bat. Later, Julie and Tom, whose bank and reputation have been restored, bid Bat a grateful farewell.