Cast & Crew
Johnny Mack Brown
After a series of ambushes on Booneville's Well Fargo payroll riders, Denver's deputy marshal Johnny Mack Brown is sent to investigate. At the Wells Fargo regional office, agent J. Cartright tells the confident and attentive Johnny that the robbers somehow know exactly which riders transport the payroll. The kind, elder Booneville station master Ben Williams is the only suspect, since he alone decides when the payroll rides, but Cartright assures Johnny that he is a faithful employee. When Johnny arrives on Booneville's main street, dour Chet Murdock, concerned because he recognizes the stranger but cannot place him, sends his sidekick Gus to follow Johnny. Posing as a horse buyer sent by Cartright, Johnny meets up with Williams, his bronco-breaking son Terry and his attractive and affectionate daughter Janet, and the four have dinner at the Williams' ranch. He then returns to town and visits his old pal, the good-hearted sheriff, Ed Lowery, who also vouches for Williams' character. Johnny asks Ed to keep his true professional identity a secret to prevent the town's questionable characters from fleeing in suspicion. Though Gus reports that Johnny is harmless, Murdock's vague recollection of Johnny continues to nag him. Frustrated after losing a poker game at Booneville's Wagon Wheel saloon, Murdock starts a fight with the bartender and ends up in a brawl with Johnny. Johnny triumphs and accepts the saloon proprietor Mae Star's offer of a room and notes that Terry and Mae are leaving together for the evening. The next morning Murdock, struck by jealousy, secretly reprimands Mae for too strongly trying to seduce Terry into their plans but Mae reassures him of her devotion. Meanwhile at Williams' ranch, Johnny borrows a pinto and rides off toward Bald Mountain, and Terry frantically rushes after but loses him. When Johnny rounds the bend at Bald Mountain, Murdock and Gus shoot at him but miss. Murdock then sends Gus to surprise Johnny from behind, but the plan backfires and Johnny kills Gus while Murdock, as yet unrecognized, beats a hasty retreat. Before Gus dies he reveals to Johnny that the pinto is the missing link to the payroll robberies. At the saloon Murdock learns from Mae that the rider was Johnny and he finally remembers that Johnny is a marshal. The two decide to leave town after one more heist, and intuitive Mae knows everyone that evening will be at the town dance except the sentimental Williams, who, having recently lost his wife, will be the only guard at the station. As evening falls the masked Murdock holds up Williams for the payroll and, after a brief scuffle, kills him to keep his identity secret. Soon after Janet and Johnny arrive at the station, where Ed tells Janet of her father's death. In the saloon Mae and Murdock toast to the money, then Murdock leaves to finish off Terry. However, Ed and Johnny find the drunken Terry first and take him to the jail. There Terry acts shocked to see Johnny still alive, confirming Johnny's suspicion that Terry has been part of the scheme. Johnny explains to Ed that Terry used the pinto to signal Gus and Murdock that the rider was carrying the payroll because he knew when his father made the payroll at the ranch. Hoping to pry a confession out of Terry, Ed tells him that his ambush cohorts murdered his father and leaves Terry to stew in his guilt. The next morning Mae promises to escape town with Terry and hands him a gun through the jail cell window, knowing that once he escapes, she and Murdock will kill him to cover their own tracks. Terry escapes only to have Murdock shoot him when he arrives at the saloon to avenge his father's death. Ed and Johnny surround the saloon and Mae stumbles out with the gun, saying she has been shot and that Murdock is dead. Unsure of Mae's claims but softened by her cries, Johnny finally emerges and Murdock shoots him. As gunfire is exchanged, Johnny shakes the gun from Mae's hand and kills Murdock. When Mae retreats to the saloon, Terry kills her and then falls to ground, dead from his wounds. With peace restored, Johnny takes the next stagecoach out of town with Janet, who insists on accompanying him as his nurse.
Johnny Mack Brown
An Hollywood Reporter news item notes that the picture was shot on location at Ray Corrigan Ranch in Simi Vallery, CA. Although another news item stated that Harold Moore was to provide the narration, there are no narrated sequences in the viewed print and Moore's participation in the film is unconfirmed. Modern sources add Joe McGuinn, John Hart, Roy Butler and George DeNormand to the cast.