Cast & Crew
Having lost all his money gambling, bronco rider Gabe Lee enters one last rodeo competition to regain his losses, but after injuring himself during the ride, is forced to retire temporarily. Gabe's girl friend Dolores, preferring a man with money, leaves with the champion, Duke Wallace. Meanwhile, at the Bar L Ranch, Lou Hollis and his sister Nancy, co-owners of the ranch, are herding their horses when they spot a wild mustang stallion whinnying for the ranch mares to follow him. Fearing the mustang will disrupt their herd, Lou tracks the horse with plans to kill him. When Lou's horse returns to camp later that evening without its rider, Nancy searches for her brother in the nearby hills, where she finds him with a broken leg. After Lou caustically insinuates that Nancy is too puny to help him back to camp, the expert horsewoman orders her horse to lie down and roll close to the badly injured man, enabling Lou to climb onto the saddle. Days later at the ranch, after the doctor orders him to stay in bed, Lou sends horse killer Hacket to find and destroy the stallion and bitterly insists that Nancy is incapable of doing the necessary "man's work" to keep the ranch running. Nancy, however, informs him that she has already found a new ranchhand, Gabe, who has responded to her advertisement in the newspaper. When Gabe arrives at the Bar L Ranch later that afternoon, a reluctant Lou complains that Gabe has not had ranch experience in many years but gives him the job. After weeks of fixing fences, Gabe laments to Nancy that he made more money in a few seconds of bronco riding, prompting her to ask why he quit. After admitting he gambled his winnings away, Gabe tries to embrace her for a kiss, but Nancy rebuffs him. Later in the barn, Gabe tries again to kiss Nancy, but she slaps him and leaves. The next day, Gabe proves his grit by breaking the first horse offered to him, impressing Lou and Nancy. During a ride on the horse, Gabe is considering whether he will stay at Bar L when he remembers how his father died from despair over losing the family farm. Nancy asks to ride the newly tame mare, but on the way home a rattlesnake scares the mare, which bucks Nancy and flees. After sharing a ride back to the ranch with her, Gabe finds his romantic attentions warmly met by Nancy. Later, Lou, suspicious of Nancy's interest in the new ranchhand, threatens to beat Gabe to death if he comes near his sister. Unable to reach Hacket, Lou gives Gabe a week to track and kill the wild stallion then interrogates his sister about Gabe. Nancy simply retorts that Gabe is a good worker. Meanwhile, Gabe tracks the stallion to a snow-covered mountain valley, but is so struck by the stallion's fierce beauty that he vows to return later to break the horse instead of killing it. When Gabe returns empty-handed, Lou instructs Hacket, who has arrived in town with his assistant, Duke Wallace, to shoot the stallion from a plane. Meanwhile, Nancy, having surmised Gabe has spotted the stallion, questions him, but Gabe begs her not to tell Lou his real plans. Later, Gabe chastises Duke and Hacket for agreeing to shoot a defenseless animal, but Lou insists that the horse is responsible for breaking his leg and should die. One day during a romantic trail ride, Gabe and Nancy spot the stallion and decide to trap it. Using Nancy's mare Shortbread as a lure, Gabe ropes the stallion, but the wild animal bucks in fear, throws Gabe from his horse and flees with Shortbread. Soon after, Hacket and Duke, flying overhead, shoot and wound the stallion while Gabe fires on the plane to stop them. Fearing that Hacket will return to finish the job, Gabe and Nancy build a lean-to to hide the stallion from Hacket's aerial view. Gabe asks Nancy to return in three days with food and water and suggests that she already has her "mustang tamed," thus professing his love for her. Later at the ranch, Hacket tells Lou that Gabe shot at his plane and then insists on payment of his $300 fee, but Lou harbors no bad feelings for Gabe for "going after what he wanted" and refuses to pay them. After Gabe breaks the stallion over several days, Nancy returns with food and warns that Hacket has vowed to kill Gabe if he is unable to provide the stallion's hide as proof of the kill. Gabe promises to finish breaking the horse and then return to the ranch in a few days to ask Lou for Nancy's hand in marriage. On her way back home, Nancy, spotting Hacket and Duke, races to beg Lou for help. Hacket and Duke, having spotted the half-broken stallion, surmise it is worth several thousand dollars and decide to kill Gabe and steal the horse. Lou and Nancy arrive just as Hacket and Duke begin shooting at Gabe, who climbs up the rocky hillside. Struggling after he is wounded in the shoulder, Gabe reaches the top of the hill, where Hacket attacks him, causing both men to tumble down the hill. Holding Duke at gunpoint, Lou offers Hacket his original fee to stop the fight. When Gabe tells Lou about his marriage plans for Nancy, Lou can only jest that Gabe will lose his salary because family "partners" do not earn a salary. As the new family shares a laugh, Gabe sets the stallion free.
Max M. Gilford
William C. Thompson
Voice-over narration heard throughout the film is provided by actor Jack Beutel as "Gabe Lee." A January 5, 1955 Daily Variety article stated that Vanessa Productions, owned by producer Robert Franklyn and his wife actress, Vanessa Brown, was shooting Mustang at Big Rock Springs, CA with Sam Abarbanel and Franklyn co-producing the film. That item added that some scenes were to be shot in Oklahoma.
A August 3, 1955 Hollywood Reporter article noted that the film editing had been completed and Vanessa Productions was to be listed onscreen instead of the new organization formed by Franklyn and Brown named Heritage Pictures. No onscreen credit was given to Vanessa Productions, Heritage Pictures, Brown, Franklyn or Abarbanel, however, nor are they mentioned in any other contemporary sources following the August 3, 1955 Hollywood Reporter article. The extent of Brown, Franklyn and Abarbanel's contribution to the completed picture has not been determined. Reviews noted that film's poor screen quality appeared to have been the result of being shot in 16mm and then blown up to 35mm.