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Army veterans are on a mission to find out who sold faulty ammunition to a cavalry troop.
To begin civilian life, Capt. Buff Devlin, Sgt. Johnny Maitland and Pvt. Wilbur Clegg, Union Army solders who have recently mustered out, ride to the Nebraska settlement where Devlin's brother Dan lives. When they arrive, the little community is under Indian attack, but the soldiers' appearance prompts the Indians to flee. Because of defective ammunition, Dan, unable to defend himself, has been killed. Afterward, upon learning from Dan's neighbors that the ammunition, as well as other defective items, were purchased in the town of Medicine Creek, Dan and his cohorts decide to go there to investigate. Before they leave, the settlers trust the soldiers with money and valuables to buy a list of needed supplies. Amy, Dan's widow, gives Devlin his mother's locket to purchase needed items for herself and her children. En route, the soldiers camp near a creek. While bathing, their uniforms, horses and valuables are stolen by three men, who then disguise themselves as soldiers to rob a nearby Quaker camp. Naked, except for judiciously placed leaves, Devlin, Johnny and Wilbur walk to the Quaker camp, where they are received with hospitality and given "plain" clothes. Upon arriving in Medicine Bend, they soon learn that the town is under the control of corrupt Ep Clark, owner of a general store, saloon and other local businesses. By selling defective merchandise at high prices and using thugs to run competition out of town, Clark has created an empire, and also controls Sheriff Bob Massey and Mayor Sam Pelley. To avoid drawing suspicion, Devlin orders his men to pretend to be devout Quakers, which is hard for Johnny, who fancies dance hall girl Nell Garrison, and Wilbur, who is thirsty for a beer. After Devlin discovers that Clark is riding his stolen horse and that Nell wears his mother's locket, Devlin has Johnny and Wilbur take jobs at Clark's general store, while he is hired by Elam King, the owner of the competing store. Elam confides to Devlin that men dressed as soldiers have been robbing wagon trains traveling through the area, and that he is concerned about a shipment of goods that he has secretly arranged to be brought in. The travelers and some local people have already paid him for the goods, and Elam will have to reimburse them if the goods are stolen. That evening, Devlin breaks into Clark's store, steals back his stolen items and, donning a mask, holds up Nell in her room and takes the locket. Later, after Rafe Sanders, Clark's store manager, expresses suspicion that Devlin and his men are the soldiers they robbed and are also behind the recent thefts, Clark sets a trap. In the store's office, he removes a floorboard, which hides a thirty-foot well, and covers the hole with a rug. Within the hearing of Johnny and Wilbur, he reports that the lock on the money box is broken and that night, has his thug, Clyde Walters, guard the room. Devlin, suspecting a trap, sends Johnny and Wilbur to the local Quaker meeting, then breaks into the room and fights with Clyde, who accidentally falls to his death in the well. Devlin then takes the money, stolen Army uniforms and the settlers' stolen property. Upon returning to Elam's, he runs into Elam's niece Priscilla, who has already guessed that Devlin is not a Quaker, and confides to her the story about his brother's death. She later covers for Devlin, when the sheriff comes to investigate the robbery and "murder." The next day, members of the wagon train find that their money and stolen items have mysteriously been returned. Nell, who is amused by Johnny, lets him carry her purchases to her room and intimates that she is unhappy with the town and would like to get married. After Sanders reports that the soldiers' uniforms are also missing, Clark wants Devlin and his men arrested, but Sheriff Massey balks at arresting military men without evidence. Clark orders Nell to find out if Devlin and his men are soldiers, which she does by plying Wilbur with liquor. However, when she realizes that Clark intends to hang them, she regrets her involvement and hastens to Elam's store to warn Devlin. With Priscilla's help, Devlin escapes after arranging to meet her later at the Quaker house. Leaving Sanders behind to insure that his orders are carried out, Clark orders Massey to hang Johnny and Wilbur, then takes his thugs to raid the wagon shipment, which they have learned about from Wilbur's drunken confession. They kill the driver and his guard, then take over the wagon. Meanwhile, the sheriff conducts a mockery of a trial in the jail cell and within minutes rules to hang Johnny and Wilbur, as well as Devlin, when he is found. Through the jailhouse window, Nell tries to apologize to Johnny, but he rebuffs her. She then convinces the remorseful sheriff to release the men, but while he is unlocking the cell, Sanders shoots him in the back. Johnny and Wilbur are standing on the gallows with ropes around their necks when Nell appears with the Quaker brethren. After convincing Sanders and his underling that the execution must follow proper procedure, she has Brother Abraham mount the gallows to pray. While reciting Bible verses, Abraham turns to the condemned men and cuts the ropes binding their hands. With the help of the brethren, Devlin, who is hiding within the crowd, overtakes the two thugs and puts them in jail. After nightfall, Clark and his men sneak the wagons into town. While the thugs unload the goods at Clark's store, Devlin, Johnny and Wilbur overtake them and Priscilla drives the wagon away. In the darkened store, Devlin and Clark fight, first with guns, then hand-to-hand. After knocking Devlin unconscious, Clark tries to shoot him, but his faulty ammunition misfires, giving Devlin time to recover. Clark dies, when he falls on the scythe with which he was going to attack Devlin. Later, the wagon trains continue on their journey with their purchased goods. Priscilla and Nell, who plan to marry Devlin and Johnny, respectively, are set to accompany their men back to Devlin's settlement. Surprising everyone, Wilbur announces that he will stay behind and join Brother Abraham's community of Quakers.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1957||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono (RCA Sound System)||Production Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
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Enjoyed this movie that began on a very serious note and soon led to some light-hearted comedic scenes. Randolph Scott, James Garner and Gordon Jones,...