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A hardened gun runner attempts to take a shipment to Cuba to assist with the rebellion against Spain.
In 1898, gunrunner Caleb "Cash" Adams and his men are ambushed by hijackers on the road to Tampa, Florida. Cash and his men fight off the attackers and continue the journey. In Tampa, Cash identifies himself to Lorenzo and Dominguez, two representatives of the Cuban rebels, and expects to be paid for the ammunition and weapons his men have brought. Instead, Cash is told that he must deliver the goods to Cuba, a journey that involves a dangerous voyage through a Spanish military blockade in the waters surrounding the island. The Cuban agents try appealing to Cash on moral grounds, hoping that their struggle for liberty will inspire him to complete the mission. Motivated only by money, Cash, who has no other market for the munitions, agrees to make the delivery, but doubles his price. Although they promise to pay his asking price, the agents suggest that Cash should believe in a cause other than himself. The "ship" the agents have acquired for the voyage is the sternwheel river boat Vicksburg , which is piloted by Southerners, Capt. "Sidewheel" Jones and his first officer Sam, Sidewheel's former slave who fought beside him during the Civil War. After learning that a second shipment of munitions has also been loaded, Cash discovers that it belongs to his rival, Clay Pike, whom he correctly guesses was behind the ambush. Also on board is Doña Isabella, the "Cuban Joan of Arc," a spiritual leader of her people who has been raising funds for their rebellion. After the boat sets off for Haiti, the first stop on a zig-zag route to evade the Spanish, Trasker, an ex-alcoholic who serves as Cash's right-hand man, takes tea with Isabella. He explains to her that Cash, a former Army captain and West Point graduate, had once been his superior officer. One day Trasker got drunk while on guard duty, allowing a captured Indian chief to escape, who then killed an officer. Because Cash refused to place the blame completely on Trasker, he was court-martialed along with Trasker. After their expulsion from the military, Trasker and Cash became mercenaries. Throughout the voyage, Pike, Cash and their respective underlings barely contain their animosity, which often erupts into fights. Jingo, one of Pike's men, tries to knife Cash, but Cash manages to overcome him. As the boat nears Haiti, locals announce their arrival by drumming a secret code. On shore, Pike and Cash are partially paid for their efforts and meet the writer and patriot Josef Marti, the "Apostle of the Cubans." Isabella reunites with her eight-year-old brother Juanito, who longs to fight for his people and is fascinated with Cash's "soldier ring," a West Point school ring embossed with the mottos "duty" and "honor." For the rest of their payment, the gunrunners must proceed to Cuba by boat and then by wagon to the village of Santiago, where Gen. Maceo awaits them. On the boat, at dinnertime, an uninvited Pike rudely tries to force his company on Isabella at the captain's table. Cash and Pike almost come to blows, but desist when sailors report spotting Spanish gunboats ahead. Fortunately for the Vicksburg passengers, the sky darkens, which allows them to pass unnoticed by the Spanish. Signal drums are again heard and Isabella reports that they warn of a Spanish detachment guarding the shore. After jumping overboard, Isabella, a fine swimmer who knows the shore well, leads Cash, Pike and others to a safe place, from which they launch an attack on the soldiers, incapacitating them so that Sidewheel can bring the Vicksburg safely to port. Later, back on the boat, Pike tries to force himself on Isabella, but Cash overhears and comes to her rescue. Cash ejects Pike, then kisses Isabella, who at first resists, but then accepts him. When the ship's cook suspects there is a stowaway aboard, Juanito, who sneaked aboard in Haiti, is discovered. Upon docking, Cash and Pike's men unload the cargo and, with Isabella, Juanito and her workers, board the wagons for the last leg of their journey. After sending his sailors away from the ship, Sidewheel gives last instructions to his sailors, bids goodbye to Isabella, saying how proud he has been to know her. Unable to pass through Spanish lines, Sidewheel and Sam set explosives onboard the ship and wait. When Spanish soldiers board to ask questions about their ship's mission, Sidewheel distracts them while Sam blows up the ship. The death of all aboard allows Cash, Trasker and Isabella to begin their journey without having their presence revealed to the Spanish. After traveling a great distance, the group reaches a mountain pass to find a newly built, heavily guarded blockhouse. As they strategize a plan to pass the enemy, Juanito is caught by two Spanish soldiers, who try to force him to talk by beating him. Cash and Trasker kill the soldiers and rescue Juanito, but the child later dies from his wounds. At night, after filling the back of a wagon with explosives and tying the dead soldiers upright on the seat, Cash and Pike lead it toward the entrance of the blockhouse. The guards allow the wagon to enter and, once inside the gates, it blows up. The caravan then passes through, but is chased by soldiers. While the rest of the caravan continues, Cash, Pike, Trasker and several other men hold back and ambush their pursuers. Later, near their destination, Isabella is met by Maceo's representatives, who report that the general has been attacked and robbed of the money he was going to pay them for the guns. Hearing this, Pike suggests that they sell their goods to the Spanish, but Cash, who has fallen in love with Isabella and taken up her cause, insists that all the munitions be delivered to Maceo. In a final confrontation, Cash kills Pike, allowing the caravan to continue to their rendezvous point with Maceo.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1956||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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Formulaic and Not Well Done
disinterested spectator 2014-09-04
Alan Ladd plays a gunrunner willing to sell guns to either side during a revolution in Cuba just before the Spanish-American War. At least, that is what he...