Cast & Crew
Deputy marshal Curt Darrow returns to his hometown, Fairweather to investigate the apparent murder of prominent businesswoman Sylvia "Princess" Melbourne. Curt meets with resistance in town because of his deceased father's unsavory reputation. However, when Curt is challenged in a saloon, Roger "The Duke" Chadwick, the saloon owner and a professional gambler, comes to his defense. Duke realizes he is a suspect in Sylvia's murder because she was his adoptive daughter and protégé, and she owned a competing saloon. Duke claims he is innocent and that he loved Sylvia, but admits that she had fallen in love with professional gunman Tony Burton, who works for the widowed rancher Francie Merritt. While Curt rides to Francie's ranch, Helen McBride chastises her husband Tom, who owns and writes the local newspaper, for publicly admitting he opposed Sylvia's business practices, especially after she bought the mortgage on his company. At the Merritt ranch, Francie admits that she is in love with Tony, who was engaged to Sylvia, but denies killing her. Tony, who has been stationed at the line shack for two days, arrives moments later, and appears unmoved when Curt informs him that Sylvia was shot in the back and found dead in her burning rooms. Later at his saloon, Duke tells Curt how he discovered Sylvia: Years earlier, Duke encounters an overturned wagon and murdered family of settlers while riding in an area known for Indian attacks. He also discovers a terrified and sobbing little girl buried for her own protection under shrubbery nearby. Duke brings home the orphan Sylvia and raises her as his own daughter. Sylvia's beauty, charm and imperious nature are soon evident, and he trains her at cards and dresses her expensively. By Sylvia's adulthood, Duke is more interested in Sylvia as a partner, rather than a daughter. However, Sylvia chafes under his guidance and challenges him to a card game in which she will commit to him for life if she loses, but Duke will buy her her own saloon if she wins. Sylvia loses the game, but Duke nevertheless defers to her wishes. In time, Sylvia buys all the local businesses in Fairweather Valley with the profits from her Crown Saloon. One evening during an anniversary celebration at the saloon, Tom confronts Sylvia and threatens to stop her. Duke admonishes Sylvia for removing anyone who stands in her way, but Sylvia dismisses his concern and repays the debt that she owes him. That night, Francie introduces Tony to Sylvia, and they immediately take to each other. Some time later, after Duke sees Tony kissing his employee, singer Gloria Starling, Duke visits Sylvia and implores her to stop seeing Tony. He reveals Tony's affair with Gloria, but Sylvia refuses to break her engagement. A jealous Duke loses his temper and grabs her, but leaves after Sylvia threatens him with a gun. His story completed, Duke tells Curt that was the last time he saw Sylvia alive. Meanwhile, Tony confronts Tom at the newspaper office because Tom's new editorial makes unpleasant accusations about Sylvia. Tom strikes out at Tony, who knocks him down and throws a lighted oil lamp onto the newspapers. Tom draws his gun but the experienced gunman is faster, and shoots and kills Tom. Curt arrests Tony, although he admits to Constable Philo Dewey that Tony acted in self- defense. Curt then searches Sylvia's home and finds her gun, which is missing one bullet. Moments later, Curt is surprised when Sylvia arrives home with her friend, a prospector named Shorty. Sylvia explains that she has been out of town, and Curt now realizes that the dead woman was assumed to be Sylvia because she was wearing her clothes, but that the fire obscured her features. After a stunned Duke learns Sylvia is alive, he realizes the dead woman was Gloria. Curt later accuses Tony of Gloria's murder, and Tony admits that he did meet Gloria at Sylvia's apartment while she was away, hoping to end his relationship with Gloria. However, their meeting was interrupted by an unidentified visitor, and Tony hid in another room while Gloria, who had put on Sylvia's dress, opened the door and was murdered. Although Tony initially becomes angry at Curt's suggestion that Sylvia killed Gloria, Curt has him released from jail and they ride together to the Merritt ranch, where Sylvia has spent the night. Before they arrive, however, Duke visits Francie and claims that Curt has asked him to bring Sylvia to town. Curt and Tony pursue Duke, who takes Sylvia to the site where he first found her. There Duke vows that he will not allow her, whom he considers his creation, to throw herself away on the unworthy Tony. Having concluded Sylvia will never again be his, Duke intends to kill her, but is shot and wounded by Curt and Tony before he can fire his gun. Sylvia runs but falls, and when Duke again takes aim on her, he is killed in an exchange of gunfire with Curt and Tony. Sylvia suffers a broken ankle, but is otherwise unharmed. Curt reflects that Duke died a better death than his father, who was lynched by a Fairweather mob after he cheated at cards. Sylvia ponders what her identity will be now that Duke is gone, and as he carries her to a wagon, Curt assures her that she will simply be herself. Curt, Sylvia and Tony then return to Fairweather.
Veda Ann Borg
Fritzy La Bar
Although the title of the viewed print was Frontier Gambler, contemporary news items dated March 1957 indicate that the film was to be re-titled Frontier Queen. The opening scene was missing from the viewed print, which begins with a scene between "Deputy Curt Darrow" and "Constable Philo Dewey," who has sent for Darrow to investigate the apparent murder. Character names were derived from the viewed print and the Monthly Film Bulletin review. Modern sources add X Brands (Gregg) to the cast and Sd man Earl Madery.
Released in United States Fall September 1956
Released in United States Fall September 1956