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Ride in the Whirlwind

Ride in the Whirlwind(1972)

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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While on their way to Waco, Texas, three saddle tramps, Vern, Wes and Otis, come across a man hanging from a tree, his body gently swaying in the wind. Continuing on, they near a shack in which a gang of outlaws have sought refuge. The gang's one-eyed leader, Blind Dick, decides to welcome the three, although Edgar, another member of the gang, favors killing them. When Blind Dick lies that the wounded Adam "fell on his knife," the cowboys begin to sense something is amiss, but nevertheless, share the whiskey, beans and biscuits that Blind Dick offers them. That night, as the three friends sit around the campfire, Vern, who has grown tired of his itinerant life, contemplates settling down while simultaneously needling Wes to join the outlaws. The next morning, a gunshot announces the arrival of a band of vigilantes bent on hanging the outlaws. After the vigilantes surround the shack and start shooting, the outlaws return their fire, trapping the three friends between the warring factions. After deliberating for a moment, the three decide to ride off, but Otis is hit in the crossfire and dies. Several of the vigilantes break off from the main group to track Wes and Vern as they try to scale the sheer walls of a canyon to escape. When the vigilantes toss burning torches onto the roof of the shack, the stalwart Blind Dick and outlaw Indian Joe brave the fiery rafters as they tumble down upon them until they finally surrender, leaving Adam and the now-wounded Edgar to perish in the flames. The vigilantes quickly constrain Blind Dick and Indian Joe and hang them from the nearest tree. Meanwhile, Vern and Wes, bone-weary from their arduous climb, know that the vigilantes are on their trail. At a homesteaders' cabin nearby, a taciturn family consisting of father Evan, mother Catherine and eighteen-year-old daughter Abigail sit down to eat their dinner in silence. Soon after, two of the vigilantes arrive at the cabin looking for Wes and Vern. After satisfying themselves that the fugitives are not there, they accept a swig of Evan's whiskey, meet Abby and ride off. The next morning after finishing her chores outside, Abby enters the cabin and finds her mother being held at gunpoint by Wes and Vern. The men greedily devour the family's breakfast, then as the day wears on, send Abby to fetch her father for the evening meal. Evan is morally outraged when Wes and Vern announce that they plan to steal the family's horses to escape. After dinner, Vern and Wes send Evan back outside to continue chopping a tree stump while they wait to flee under cover of darkness. Meanwhile, one of the vigilantes, who had visited the cabin the night before, decides to return and get to know Abby better. When the vigilante rides into the yard, Evan tells him that Wes and Vern are inside the house. To lull the fugitives into believing all is well, the vigilante instructs Evan to point off in the distance, then rides out in that direction. Viewing the proceedings through the window, Wes and Vern realize that the vigilante knows they are there and run out the back to the horse corral. When Evan fires his rifle at them, the vigilantes hear the gunshots and ride toward the cabin. After Evan shoots Vern off his horse, Wes pulls his wounded friend onto his animal, shoots Evan and rides off. As the vigilantes pursue them, Vern slips off the horse and urges Wes to go on without him. Once Wes gallops off, Vern crawls onto a ridge overlooking the trail to hold off the vigilantes. As Vern dies with gun in hand, Wes rides into the horizon.