The Desperados Are in Town
Cast & Crew
Young Lonny Kesh, the son of poor Georgian farmers, yearns for a life of adventure and excitement in the West. Lonny detests Jud Collins, the town's wealthy, paternalistic banker, and has contempt for his father Tom, a shiftless drunk whose sense of self-worth was destroyed during the Civil War. Consequently, when Tom slaps Lonny one day, Lonny climbs on the family's plow horse and heads west. Along the trail, he is befriended by Frank Banner, a compassionate freight wagon driver, who rides with him to San Antonio, Texas. There, Frank finds Lonny a job tending horses at the local stable owned by Jim Day. One day, a Texas Ranger comes to town looking for Frank, and Jim covers for him and then sends Lonny to warn Frank and provide him with a getaway horse. Frank, a former outlaw who is trying to go straight, bids farewell to his girl friend Hattie and rides out of town. Lonny insists on accompanying Frank, and some time later, they join the Lapman gang, run by brothers Dock and Tobe Lapman. After a failed stagecoach robbery, Dock schemes to rob the bank at Plainfield. When one of the gang goes to scout the bank, a Texas Ranger recognizes him and lays a trap for the bandits. On the day of the robbery, Frank urges Lonny to give up his life of crime, but Lonny stubbornly believes that he has no other choice. As the gang rides into town, the Rangers, in disguise, line the streets. Just as the robbers dismount, the Rangers open fire. When Lonny's horse is shot out from underneath him, Frank risks his life to bring him another and is wounded by one of the Ranger's bullets. Once outside of town, Frank orders Lonny to ride to safety while the posse pursues the rest of the gang. After Lonny departs, Dock shoots Frank in the head so that he will not slow them down. Returning home, Lonny finds his house boarded up and both his parents dead, the victim of typhoid fever. He then rides to the neighboring Rutherford ranch, where he is welcomed by daughter Alice and her parents, who insist that Lonny stay with them until his house can be repaired. Next, Lonny visits Collins and is surprised when the banker offers to defer his father's debts and offers the boy a loan to plant a cotton crop. Lonny's earlier malaise and animosity toward the small town evaporates when all the neighbors pitch in to secure his success. One day in town, Lonny and Alice watch as Deputy Sheriff Mike Groome posts a wanted poster for the Lapman brothers. Lonny becomes agitated when Groome informs him that they are also looking for the boy who held the gang's horses and that Frank is dead, shot though the head by the Lapmans. As the seasons pass, the industrious Lonny restores his house, plants his seeds and harvests his cotton crop. While frolicking in the fields one day with Lonny, Alice spots his gun and worries that he may be involved in some sort of crime. On the night of the big harvest dance, the Lapmans show up at Lonny's farm. In a menacing tone, they ridicule Lonny's party clothes, gobble up the candy he has bought for Alice and order him to cook them dinner. Dock then outlines a scheme to rob the town bank in which the outlaws will accompany Lonny when he goes to withdraw his funds. When Dock threatens Lonny, Lonny throws a pan of scalding hot gravy in his face and then slams the frying pan into Tobe's head. Furious, Dock springs at Lonny and tries to strangle him. In self-defense, Lonny pulls his gun and fires, killing Dock. After Tobe aims his gun at Lonny, Lonny plunges a pitchfork into his chest. Stumbling into the dance, disheveled and shaken, Lonny surrenders to Collins and presents him with the bodies of the outlaws stacked in the back of his wagon. After confessing that he once rode with them, Lonny collapses and Collins takes the boy to his home. Soon after, the sheriff appears with a statement written by Tobe just before he died, accusing Lonny of participating in the Plainfield robbery. Collins quickly asserts that Lonny was on his way home and therefore could not have been present in Plainfield. To silence the sheriff, Collins convinces him that he is responsible for the arrest of the outlaws and consequently entitled to the $2,000 reward. After the sheriff accepts Collins' logic, the banker tears up Tobe's statement and wishes Alice and Lonny well.
William Calihan Jr.
Clarence J. Marks
The working title of this film was The Outlaws Are in Town. The film opens with the following voice-over narration: "The sound of cannons had faded into the past...so had the trudging of hob-nailed boots of the invading armies across Southern soil. Streams that not long ago were crimson-stained ran clear and sweet again. The land was at peace once more, but scars had been left, scars deep and lasting, they were on the hearts and minds of men." Although the Variety review lists Robert Arthur's character as "Lenny," he is called "Lonny" throughout the film. Michael Garrett and Phil Van Zandt are listed in July 1956 Hollywood Reporter production charts and news items, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The Desperados Are in Town marked the screen debut of Kathleen Nolan, who was billed as Kathy Nolan in the film. Nolan was best known for her role as "Kate McCoy" on the popular television series The Real McCoys (1957-1963), and served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1975-1979.