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Ben Matthews gives up the flashy life of a riverboat gambler, hoping to settle down in Galena with his girlfriend, luscious entertainer Zoe. But Galena's leading citizen is murdered on the boat; Ben, on arrival, finds a lynch mob after his neck, and flees. Three years of wandering later, Zoe's letters stop coming and Ben returns to find her and attempt the hopeless task of clearing himself.
The river boat The Montana Queen cruises the Mississippi River, its crew on the lookout for pirates. In the casino, Marshal Sommers and rancher Matt Comfort keep watch as gambler Carrico uses his foil, poker dealer Ben Matthews, to cheat Frank Porter out of his bankroll. Seeing Porter's anguish, Ben feels guilty, and after Matt accuses him of cheating, Ben invites Matt to join them in a game. During the game, Ben abruptly stops cheating, causing Carrico to lose everything to Matt. Carrico soon fires Ben, but Matt is waiting to offer Ben a job at his ranch in Galena, Illinois, which he co-owns with his brother Brand. Ben accepts but is stopped later by Sommers, who warns Ben to be on his best behavior, as Matt is both powerful and well-loved. Soon after, Ben sees three men stealing a large wooden Indian from Matt's room, and when he runs inside, he finds Matt murdered. He fights one of the thieves, who wears a studded belt, but is pushed overboard and forced to swim to shore. He walks to nearby Galena, where the boat has since docked, and discovers that he and Carrico are being blamed for Matt's death. After Sommers narrowly rescues Carrico from a lynching, Ben sneaks over to the local saloon, where his girl friend, Zoe Fontaine, works as an entertainer. Although Zoe begs him to run away with her, Ben steps forward to proclaim Carrico's innocence, then sees that Carrico is already being hanged, and leaves town a wanted man. Later, Ben assumes the name Ben Martin, and begins a new life as a ranchhand. Over the years he sends Zoe letters, but her attempts to write back are thwarted by the saloon owner, Andre Boucher, who wants Zoe for himself. Finally, distraught by her failure to reply, Ben quits his job and travels back to Galena. On the range, he is joined by Rick Harper, a good-natured petty thief, who offers his services as a guide but then tries to rob Ben at night. Ben thwarts him and leaves him horseless, but within hours Rick has stolen a new horse and rejoined Ben on the trail. Just then, the men from whom Rick stole the horse appear, and he and Ben flee into the river, where Ben protects Rick from drowning. Adrift in the river, they are picked up by The Montana Queen , where Ben reserves top-deck accommodations, banishes Rick to the boiler room, and leaves his money in the captain's safe. At lunch that day, as Brand Comfort and his niece, Miss Vanilla Bissell, take a table near Ben and Rick, pirates come aboard, rob the safe and line up the passengers to take their money. When a pirate slaps Vanilla as she tries to fight back, Ben beats him up and then steals his disguise in hopes of infiltrating the gang, but on his way out the door, Rick punches him. Before the crowd can harm him, Vanilla identifies him as her rescuer and the group thanks Ben and Rick warmly. Although Ben has no money left, Rick insists on sticking by him, but soon after, they learn that Sommers is to greet the boat in Galena. Rick concocts a plan in which they pretend that Ben is suffering a coma, and shuttles him off the boat before Sommers can see him. Rick is eager to leave Galena, but Ben insists on seeing Zoe, and that night they visit Boucher's saloon. Zoe is now the star of the show and, to Ben's chagrin, Boucher's girl friend, but when she sees that Ben needs money to bail Rick out of a losing poker game, she gives him a costly bracelet. Ben tries to return the bracelet, but Boucher stops him, claiming her as his own. Soon after, Ben races to Zoe's house, where she tries to explain the last few years, but he will not listen and insults her. When she tells him to leave, however, he finds he cannot, and she runs into his arms. Just as they are making a plan to run away together the following night, Rick, who has just been hired by Boucher to get Ben out of town, climbs in through the window. They fight, and although Ben wins, Boucher shows up and whips him with a studded belt, which Ben recognizes from the night of Matt's murder. Ben flees into the hills, where he evades Boucher's henchmen, and doubles back to the Comfort ranch. Brand welcomes Ben, who spills his whole tale to the rancher, assuming he is as fair and honest as was his brother. As Ben finishes his story, however, he notes the wooden Indian in Brand's study and realizes that Brand and Boucher were behind Matt's murder. He pulls out his gun, unaware that one of Brand's men is behind him with a pistol. Just then, Rick, who has followed Ben, appears at the window and kills Brand's henchman. With Sommers and a posse fast approaching the ranch, Ben and Rick race into the hills, where they split up in order to foil the posse. Ben sneaks back to Zoe, who informs him that they will board The Montana Queen together that night to escape. Ben is about to go into hiding when Sommers returns to town with a captured Rick, and announces his plan to bring Rick to the capital on the river boat in order to avoid a lynching. Boucher then secretly instructs the townsmen to set fire to the boat, after which they prepare to lynch Rick. Ben climbs into the saloon office, where Boucher is burning documents from Brand's safe, and beats him. Although Ben leads him to the balcony overlooking the town square and presses a gun to his back, Boucher refuses to confess to killing Matt, but Sommers storms out of his office and commands the townspeople to take the rope from Rick's neck. Ben announces that Boucher was trying to burn the proof of his partnership with Brand, and Sommers calls them both down to the square for a discussion. Before they can move, however, Boucher's man shoots at Ben, but the bullet misses Ben and hits Boucher. Before he dies, Boucher tells Sommers that the documents will reveal how he conspired with Brand to smuggle gold, behind Matt's back, in the Indian, after which Sommers holds an impromptu trial to free Ben and Rick. Sommers then gives Rick fifteen seconds to leave town to avoid arrest for stealing horses, and Rick has only enough time to wish Ben and Zoe good luck with their proposed ranch before racing into the hills.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 15 Jun 1956|
|Release Date:||1956||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||Universal Pictures Co., Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.|
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The Rawhide Years
Steven Zaremba 2010-07-07
Found this movie on an old tape from tv. Had never watched it before. Picture on the tape was not good, but the movie was very good. Tony Curtis in a...