Abilene Town


1h 29m 1946

Brief Synopsis

In the years following the Civil War, the town of Abilene, Kansas is poised on the brink of an explosive confrontation. A line has been drawn down the center of the town where the homesteaders and the cattlemen have come to a very uneasy truce. The delicate peace is inadvertantly shattered when a group of new homesteaders lay down their stakes on the cattlemen's side of town, upsetting the delicate balance that had existed thus far and sparking an all-out war between the farmers, who want the land tamed and property lines drawn, and the cowboys, who want the prairies to be open for their cattle to roam.

Film Details

Also Known As
Abilene
Release Date
Jan 11, 1946
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Guild Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Trail Town by Ernest Haycox (Boston, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

In 1870, Abilene, Kansas is a rowdy, wild town located at the end of the one-thousand mile Chisholm cattle trail. When gunshots interrupt a church service, Abilene marshal Dan Mitchell leaves the church to investigate. The shots are the cattlemen's way of showing their approval of entertainer Rita's performance at the local saloon. After Dan confiscates the guns, he reminds the men that all weapons are to be checked at the door. Despite Dan's warnings, a quarrel over a card game results in the murder of one of cattle boss Ryker's men. When Dan refuses to let Ryker's men take revenge on the murderer, they threaten to tear the town apart. In addition to the unruly cowboys, the residents of Abilene are troubled by the recent arrival of homesteaders, who want to build farms and fences along the trail, which is owned by the government. Charlie Fair, the owner of the saloon, who depends on the cowboys for his living, is worried that the merchants will discover that they can earn more from the homesteaders and team up with them against the cattlemen. That night, some of Charlie's men set fire to the homesteads and one farmer is killed. A homesteader recognizes Jet Younger among them, and a posse is organized by sheriff Bravo Trimble to search for him. Although the crimes did not take place in Dan's jurisdiction, he joins the posse, convinced that Bravo has no intention of finding Younger. Dan's suspicions prove correct, and when Bravo learns that Dan intends to look for Younger in an old mine shaft, he knocks Dan unconscious and ties him up. After Dan frees himself, he searches the mine shaft and finds Younger there. Despite Bravo's duplicity, Dan allows the sheriff to deliver Younger to the waiting townspeople. Later, while Dan visits Rita in her room, Younger escapes. When Dan hears about the escape, he chases Younger and shoots him. The homesteaders now decide to fence the range, but Eli Balder, Abilene's foremost merchant, refuses to sell them the wire. Impressed by the arguments of young farmer Henry Dreiser, however, Sherry, Eli's daughter, agrees to help the homesteaders. When Ryker's men reach the fences with the cattle, they angrily drive the herd across the land despite the barriers. Expecting a fight, Dan asks the homesteaders to meet in town. He allows the cowboys to blow off steam destroying the saloons and then arrests Ryker. When Ryker resists arrest, Dan is forced to kill him, but the cowboys agree to leave town when they see the armed homesteaders. Now that the town is quiet, Rita and Dan plan their wedding, as do Henry and Sherry.

Film Details

Also Known As
Abilene
Release Date
Jan 11, 1946
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Guild Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Trail Town by Ernest Haycox (Boston, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

I don't know whether you joined us or we joined you, but it's good to be together.
- Rita
You've been out looking for the man who stuck up the train?
- Chet Younger
I figure I got more trail dust than he did dollars.
- Sheriff Bravo Trimble
Now, Bravo, I thought we were old friends.
- Dan Mitchell
We are, Dan, we are. But you got the idea that you ought to kick up a fuss about things that are going to happen anyway. I don't figure it that way. A man's got to live. Cows get lost, sometimes accidents happen and fellas get killed. Why get hot under the collar about I? And why go hunting for fellas that don't want to be found?
- Sheriff Bravo Trimble
I understand you filed for reelection next fall, Bravo.
- Dan Mitchell
Yeah, they talked me into it. I figured on opening up a saloon or maybe going back to practicing dentistry. But somebody has got to keep law and order in the county.
- Sheriff Bravo Trimble
You know, I think what I like least about you is you're so sure of yourself.
- Rita
When a man rides down the middle of Texas Street, confidence is all he's got.
- Dan Mitchell

Trivia

Notes

This film marked the motion picture debut of Helen Boyce, a one-time vaudeville headliner and proprietor of Santa Monica's "Coocoonut Groove" nightclub. A special premiere was held in Abiline on January 14, 1946. The Motion Picture Herald review notes that Abilene was the hometown of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander in chief of allied forces in western Europe during World War II.