Madonna of the Desert
Cast & Crew
At his friend Hank Davenport's antique store, Nick Julian reads about a jewel-encrusted ivory statue of the Madonna and its owner, Joseph Salinas, who lives in nearby Madera, California. Nick decides to visit Joseph at his ranch, but finds no one home and crawls through the window to examine the statue. When Joe and his ranch hand, Pete Connors, suddenly enter, Nick covers himself by pretends to be an avid collector looking to buy the statue. Joe politely explains that the statue is not for sale and ushers Nick out. Later, Nick and Hank are plotting to replace the original statue with a fake, when ex-convict Tony French, who would also like to steal the statue, returns unexpectedly to town. Nick then convinces his sweetheart, Monica Dale, to replace the real statue with a fake. Monica drives to Joe's ranch and when her car, which she has deliberately sabotaged, breaks down there, she asks Joe to examine it for her. Joe recommends a new coil wire and instructs Pete to go into town for one. While they are waiting for Pete, Monica asks Joe about the prized statue, and he explains he allowed the Baravelli family to borrow it for good luck at their daughter's wedding. Pete then returns, and Joe convinces him to tell Monica that the car part will take at least two hours to install, so that she will be persuaded to come to the wedding reception. After they arrive at the reception, Monica attempts to exchange the statues, but is distracted when a candle ignites her coat. Joe thinks quickly, grabbing a sheet to extinguish the flames. Monica is unharmed, and the wedding guests, who attribute supernatural powers to the statue, decide that it has saved her life. Tony arrives later and introduces himself as "Jim Blake," after which Monica decides to go inside and lie down. Joe swears that the statue cured him after he was crippled in war and places the statue next to her. When he leaves her alone, Monica rushes to exchange the statues and immediately confuses them. She grabs one of the statues and rushes outside to bury it in the garden. When she returns to the ranch, Tony holds her up, but she manages to escape and drive to Nick's place. Back at the celebration, Tony grabs the other statue and leaves. On his way to the ranch, Nick sees Tony driving away and turns around to follow him. After he runs Tony off the road, Nick sees him with the fake statue and hurls it at his head. By the time Monica returns to the ranch, Joe has dug up the statue and does not believe her plea that she thought it was the fake one. Nick grabs Joe's gun and shoots Pete in the shoulder. Nick then aims at Joe, but Tony shoots him before he fires. As he dies, however, Nick shoots and kills Tony.