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A stagecoach guard is mistaken for a member of a gang of outlaws.
In the 1800s, Larry Delong wanders the West "riding shotgun" as a stagecoach guard, while searching for a ruthless killer, Dan Marady. Delong is so intent on his mission to find and kill Marady that he is lured from his post into a trap by an old-timer bearing Marady's good-luck piece, a Berringer pocket gun. After being captured by Marady's gang and left to die in the hills, Delong frees himself and retrieves his horse and gun, as well as the pocket gun that the old-timer dropped in the scuffle. As it is too late to stop the gang from attacking his stagecoach, Delong tries to warn the citizens in the nearby town of Deep Water that, while the sheriff and his posse are out investigating the stagecoach attack, the gang plans to rob their casino. To his surprise, Delong finds the townspeople, who have been his neighbors and friends, hostile toward him and soon learns that his fellow guard, Bob Purdee, was killed in the attack. Moreover, a young child and his mother riding the coach recognized the old-timer among the attackers as the man who rode off with Delong and from this the townspeople have concluded that Delong is part of the gang. Except for Delong's girl friend, Orissa Flynn, and Doc Winkler, no one believes in his innocence, not even Delong's ten-year-old admirer Johnny, who shoots him with a slingshot. Fearing that he has been sent by Marady to discourage the posse from pursuing them, the townspeople take Delong's horse, preventing him from riding out to warn the sheriff. The town's unrelenting suspicions finally cause Delong to take refuge in a cantina owned by the German immigrant, Fritz. When the chief deputy, Tub Murphy, returns to town with his assistant, Ross Hughes, the citizens clamor for Delong's arrest, but, reluctant to take charge or disbelieve Delong's story, Tub urges the citizens to wait for the sheriff. He does ask Delong to come, unofficially, to the sheriff's office, but Delong refuses, as he wants to remain free to fight Marady. Although no one is brave enough to confront Delong, who is an excellent marksman, the townspeople keep a vigil around the cantina, and many of Delong's innocent actions, such as reloading his gun, are interpreted by the crowd as intentionally harmful. Later, Winkler, seeing a lynch mob forming, tries to convince the townsmen that Marady has used the same strategy described by Delong in previous robberies and urges them to keep watch on the bank and casino, but the people remain stubbornly single-minded. When Orissa goes to the cantina to warn Delong that the crowd is getting meaner, Delong refuses to make an escape, explaining that he wants revenge on Marady, who killed his sister and nephew during a stagecoach attack three years before. Col. Flynn, who is Orissa's father and owner of the casino, orders Orissa out and asks Delong to give himself up. Delong persuades Orissa to leave with the colonel, but explains that it would be suicide for him to leave the safety of the cantina. Having worked up a collective courage, the townsmen try to flush out Delong and begin shooting. Delong refrains from returning fire, except to shoot out a candle flame that exposes his movements to the people outside. Marady and some of his gang ride into town, and Marady, judging that the townspeople's distraction with Delong will work to their advantage, enters the casino unobtrusively to await reinforcements, while his henchman Pinto mingles with the crowd. Then, Ben, a brash young man, tries to single-handedly drag Delong out, and Delong is forced to shoot back, but is careful to disarm him without doing serious harm. During the encounter, Delong spots Pinto in the crowd. Realizing that Marady is near, Delong escapes through the attic, leaving the crowd to discover his absence, and works his way to the casino, where a robbery is now in progress. Before entering, Delong cuts the cinch straps on the saddles of Marady's men, then shoots out the lights in the casino, and a gunfight ensues. The townspeople hear the shots and arrive in time to collect the escaping outlaws, who fall off their horses when they try to mount. In the darkened casino, Marady and Delong continue to fight. As he has been counting Delong's shots, Marady boldly approaches Delong after hearing six shots fired. Delong, however, still has Marady's good-luck pocket gun and with it, kills Marady. Outside, the crowd thanks Delong, but Pinto is with them, having so far escaped notice. When young Johnny sees Pinto taking aim at Delong, he uses his slingshot to hit the outlaw in the face with a rock, which gives Delong time to shoot in self-defense.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 1 Apr 1954|
|Release Date:||1954||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Warnercolor)||Distributions Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono (RCA Sound System)||Production Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
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