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The Twinkle in God's Eye

The Twinkle in God's Eye(1955)


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In the 1880s, newly ordained preacher Rev. William Macklin II is en route to his first pastorate in the frontier town of Lodestone. His train journey ends at a lonely desert depot thirty miles from town. An old prospector Macklin encounters tells him that the stagecoach, which comes only once a week, left the day before. As Macklin walks toward town, a privately-chartered stagecoach approaches and he is permitted to join the six dance hall girls who are its passengers. Asked by the girls why he chose Lodestone, instead of a God-fearing town, Macklin explains that his father, who was also a parson, built a log church there twenty-five years ago. Although the church burned during an Indian attack and his father was killed, Macklin says his mother was saved from an arrow, when it hit the Bible she was holding. She returned East and died giving birth to him. In town, the girls perform in Marty Callahan's Silver Palace Saloon. One of the girls, Laura, is Marty's former sweetheart, but she refuses his overture to resume their relationship and accuses him of seeking the "fast dollar." On a hill behind the Palace, Macklin begins rebuilding the ruins of his father's church. Although the saloon's organist, Ted, supports Macklin's plans, Marty fears that church activities will interfere with his customers' gambling and drinking. When an earthquake scare that disrupts bar activities turns out to be a boulder Macklin accidentally sent rolling, Marty feels his concerns are legitimate. Despite Marty's attempts to bribe him, Macklin refuses to move the church's location. When Macklin learns that the nearest source of timber is in the Indian-occupied mountains, thereby making it expensive to acquire, he decides to enter a shooting contest in the upcoming rodeo, hoping to win the $300 prize. As he does not know how to shoot, he practices target shooting with borrowed guns. Meanwhile, Marty sabotages Macklin's church-building efforts by starting rumors that the parson is really digging for gold. Only Ted and the girls attend Macklin's first service, which is held outdoors in the old ruins. Later, after outlaws rob the Palace, one of the robbers, Lou, feigns interest in joining the church and hides the loot in its stone altar. Lou's cohorts agree to leave the money in the altar until interest in the robbery dies down. To keep an eye on their investment, they pretend to be converts and help Macklin with the church's reconstruction. Later, Macklin convinces Ted to ride with him to the timberline and ask the Indians for help in securing lumber. The Indians, who resent that the white men's sluice mining has killed the salmon, are hostile. After learning that the Indians, who traditionally fish shallow water with spears, have been unable to catch fish in a nearby lake, Macklin teaches them how to fish with a rod and fly. In exchange, the chief promises to supply him with timber, if he will pay for horses to drag the wood down the mountain. After smoking a peace pipe with the chief, Macklin returns to Lodestone in time to compete in the rodeo. By mistake, Macklin, still feeling the effects of the pipe smoke, is put on a horse for the bronco-riding competition. To everyone's surprise, he is the only contestant to stay on the horse, and wins the prize money. Laura also competes, hoping to raise money to leave town with the girls, but she falls off the horse and suffers a spine injury. When the doctor says she needs an expensive operation by a specialist in Sacramento, Macklin donates his winnings to pay for it. Financially ruined by the robbery, Marty takes a job at a competing saloon, the Golden Nugget. With the closing of the Palace, Ted goes to work in the mines and gives his organ to Macklin for the church. Macklin's hopes for the church are shattered when he receives a letter from his superiors ordering him to San Diego. Laura, who has recovered enough to use a wheelchair, despairs at the loss of the church and fears she will never walk. When Macklin reminds her to have faith, Ted convinces Macklin to have enough faith to report to his superiors that the congregation is growing. After the Indians arrive with the timber, Macklin sells the organ to the owner of the Golden Nugget to pay them for the horses. When the outlaws decide to retrieve their loot from the half-built church, Lou, who has been transformed by his acquaintance with Macklin, tries to stop them. The outlaws shoot Lou and go into town to retrieve the money, where news of a mine cave-in is sweeping through town and Macklin and the girls have come to the church to pray. The townsmen try to rescue Ted and the miners, but when their attempts fail, Macklin suggests they use his lumber as levers to move the boulders and shore up the mine. He then orders the townsmen to dismantle his church. When some loosened boards crash onto the altar and expose the stolen money, the robbers boldly attempt to escape with the plunder, but are arrested. By using the timber as Macklin suggested, the townsmen free the trapped miners. When Macklin returns the money to Marty, the saloon keeper apologizes for his behavior. Laura, seeing the change in Marty, agrees to marry him and Macklin performs the ceremony. After the wedding, the townspeople begin rebuilding the church.