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Rimfire

Rimfire(1949)

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After four masked gunmen hold up a stagecoach carrying, among others, gambler The Abilene Kid, Tom Harvey intervenes from behind a rock, claiming that his "men" have the gunmen covered. After a brief exchange of gunfire, the gunmen ride off. Tom is actually alone and on foot, as his horse has been struck by a rattlesnake, so he hitches a ride on the stage into Stringtown, New Mexico. Sheriff Jim Jordan meets the stage and is dismayed to discover that Polly, his niece, is on board and has come for a visit. Later, two of the gunmen, Blazer and Toad Tyler, report to their boss, Barney Bernard, owner of the Blue Moon Saloon, but are interrupted by The Kid, who demands the return of his money and watch. Meanwhile, Tom, a Secret Service captain working undercover, explains to the sheriff that about three years earlier, gold bars were stolen from the U.S. Mint and are now believed to be hidden in the area. The bars are stamped and would have to be melted down before they could be fenced. Tom is made a deputy and his fellow deputy, Harry Wilson, introduces him to Nathaniel Greeley, editor and publisher of the local newspaper. Later, when The Kid is winning a game of draw poker, with Blazer, Toad, Jesse Norton and others, Blazer, annoyed at losing, socks The Kid and a lengthy fistfight ensues. The Kid wins but Blazer grabs a gun and is about to shoot him when Lolita, a saloon girl, draws her own gun against Blazer. Just then, Tom arrives to break it all up. Toad and Blazer switch the playing cards, showing Norton, Barney and the others that they are marked. Tom accompanies Blazer to The Kid's room but, while his door is still closed, The Kid denies using marked cards. He then leaves by a window and runs to a livery stable. However, before he can get a horse saddled, Tom and the others catch up with him and Tom arrests him, promising that he will have a fair trial. However, when The Kid appears in front of Judge Gardner and pleads not guilty, the judge appoints Porky Hodges, a man with no legal experience, as The Kid's attorney. After hearing several witnesses, the judge asks those present to decide on a guilty or innocent verdict. By acclamation, The Kid is found guilty and the judge rules that he be hanged the next morning. Before he is hanged, The Kid tells the crowd that they are about to witness the murder of an innocent man and warns them that gold, greed and death seem to go together. After the hanging takes place, the crowd disperses very quietly. Later, Polly invites Tom to accompany her to San Dimas on an errand for her uncle. As they are returning, Harry Wilson is shot and killed and a playing card, the deuce of spades, is found near his body. Later, the sheriff learns that the bullet that killed Wilson is made of pure gold and Blazer wonders if The Kid has returned from the grave for revenge. After Lamson and Weber, other participants in the card game, and the stagecoach driver, Curt Calvin, are all killed under similar circumstances, with playing cards found near their bodies, the town's citizens become concerned that Jordan and Tom cannot find the killer. Although Porky is hired as a replacement deputy, Norton and Bernard are also killed. Tom and Jordan try to figure out a pattern to the killings and Tom believes that someone is making it appear that The Kid's ghost is seeking revenge. After Tom discovers that the bullets have an indentation that suggests they were fired from a rare rimfire weapon, he decides to check every gun in Stringtown. Blazer and Toad, afraid for their lives, leave town and, beside a night campfire, Blazer realizes that everyone killed was, like them, involved in the federal gold theft. He is about to tell Toad who the "ghost of The Abilene Kid" probably is, when he and Toad are killed. Later, Jordan finds two playing cards on his desk, almost completing the suite. After Chico, a gold prospector, tells Tom and Jordan that he has found the missing gold bars in a cave, he takes Tom and Porky to see them. Tom then sends Chico and Porky back into town to bring a wagon while he stands guard over the gold. Later, Jordan arrives, purportedly to help Tom, but hands him a playing card and draws his gun. When Jordan states that after killing him, he intends to shoot Polly, whom Tom has been courting, Tom leaps on him and they struggle for possession of the gun, but Jordan escapes. Polly is at home when a bruised, dishevelled Jordan enters, admits that he is the "ghost" and moves to shoot her. Just at that moment, Tom arrives, shoots the gun out of Jordan's hand and knocks him out. Later, Porky and Chico leave Stringtown to return the gold with Tom, who will then be returning to Polly, his new bride.