In Texas, during the 1870-1873 carpetbag administration of Governor E. J. Davis, the law is enforced by a brutal, despotic organization called the Texas State Police, known as the "Bluebellies." As part of a campaign to vote Davis out of office, the citizens of John's City hold meetings which are frequently broken up by the Bluebellies. Young Tom Cameron and his friend Ray Novack, son of the former sheriff, are suspected of having blown up the Bluebellies' station house and are arrested and interrogated by the brutal Capt. Thornton. To save Ray from additional physical punishment, Tom confesses to throwing the dynamite. They both manage to escape and plan to hide out in Big Bend country, but on their way there they befriend outlaw gunman Sam Garrett. Ray, who is extremely jealous of Tom's courtship of Laurie Bannerman, wants to capture Garrett and attempts to shoot him while he is sleeping, but Tom prevents him. After Tom and Sam send Ray away, Sam presents Tom with two guns and coaches him in fast draws. As they move on, they encounter Paul Creyton, another outlaw, who has had to shoot his injured horse. When Creyton later attempts to steal Tom's horse, Tom shoots and kills him. Tom then decides to return home and finds that his father has been accidentally killed by Thornton. Laurie tries to persuade Tom to marry her and leave, but he feels that he must avenge his father. Some time later, Tom finds Thornton in a saloon and orders him to draw. A bartender attempts to shoot Tom but is shot by Sam, who enters the saloon at that moment. When Thornton refuses to draw his gun, Tom cannot shoot him and rides off with Sam. After they leave, Ray, who has been present in the saloon, kills Thornton and a trooper. Later, Ray tells Laurie and his father that Tom killed them and alienates Laurie from Tom. Meanwhile, Tom and Sam arrive in Red River to join a cattle drive to Abilene and Tom writes a letter to Laurie asking her to meet him in Abilene. As the drive begins, Tom encounters Paul Creyton's twin brother Buck, and kills him. Back in John's City, Ray is in the general store when the mail bag arrives and takes Tom's letter to Laurie. Subsequently, Abilene's marshal Jim Langley is advised that Tom and Sam will be arriving with the herd, but Langley proves to be an old friend of Sam's. Tom learns that Governor Davis has been deposed and the Bluebellies are finished. Believing that he is now free, Tom goes to meet Laurie but is arrested by Langley for Thornton's murder and suspects that Laurie has set him up. At the trial, Ray testifies that he saw Tom kill Thornton and the trooper. Although Tom has elected to defend himself, Sam shows up and testifies that he saw Ray in the saloon as they left and that Thornton and the trooper were still alive. Langley states that although Sam is an outlaw, he is an honest man and asks Ray's father who informed him that Tom would be in Abilene. Knowing he is trapped, Ray tries to escape but is stopped by Langley. Later, Tom and Laurie reunite as Sam rides away.
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.; Silvermine Productions Co.
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Based upon a novel by Clifton Adams (New York, 1950).
Black and White