Partners of the Trail


54m 1944

Brief Synopsis

Kate Hilton (Christine McIntyre), returning to her ranch in Springfield via stagecoach after learning of the murder of her father (Joseph Eggerton), meets U.S. Marshal Nevada Jack McKenzie (Johnny Mack Brown). The stage is held up and robbed of the rancher's money, but Nevada manages to bring it in after the driver (Slim Whitaker) has been killed. Sandy Hopkins (Raymond Hatton), also a U.S. Marshal, is posing as a cook at the only cafe in town. Joel Edwards (Craig Woods) now running the Wells Fargo office after Hilton was killed, and Kate are in love. J. D. Edwards (Robert Frazer), president of the land-and-cattle company, and step-father to Joel, controls all the interest in Springfield. A number of citizens have been killed for no apparent reason, and Doctor Applegate (Lloyd Ingraham) has sent for Nevada and Sandy to solve the mystery killings. Applegate is killed after he returns from a prospecting trip, but not before he has deposited some of the gold he found in the Wells Fargo safe. J.D.Edwards, in reality the gang leader, means to acquire the property containing the gold that Hilton, originally, and Applegate later found. Nevada and Sandy learn of the location in time to keep the ranchers from selling to Edwards. The latter tries to shoot Nevada, but Joel draws first and kills him. The ranchers are told there is gold on their property, and the whole gang is apprehended.

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 1, 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 31 Mar 1944
Production Company
Great Western Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Monogram Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
54m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
4,958ft

Synopsis

On the stage bound for the town of Rawbone, U.S. Marshal Jack McKenzie, known as "Nevada," meets Kate Hilton, who tells him of her father's recent mysterious murder, one of a series of unexplained killings that have been plaguing the town. When the stage stops at the water station, a gang of robbers steals the strongbox and shoots and kills the driver. After the startled horses run away with the stage, Nevada climbs into the driver's seat and guides the coach into town. In Rawbone, Nevada meets Dobbey, the new, ineffectual sheriff, and his deputy Trigger, who has been appointed by J. D. Edwards, the head of the Land and Water Company. After Kate is reunited with her fiancé, Joel Dixon, the manager of the Wells Fargo office, Nevada goes to the town's only restaurant, where he meets his partner, fellow marshal Sandy Hopkins, who is working undercover as a cook there. The two lawmen have been assigned to investigate the murders, which Sandy believes are related to the ownership of water rights. Soon after, Doc Applegate rides into town and proceeds to Edwards' office. Doc, who has just returned from the hill country, where he has been investigating the death of his good friend Hilton, shows Edwards a sealed envelope which he claims holds the motive for Hilton's murder. After depositing the envelope in the Wells Fargo safe, Doc goes to question Nevada, the new stranger in town. When Doc leaves the office, Edwards orders Trigger to find out what he is carrying in the sack that he brought from the hills. At the restaurant, Doc, who sent for the marshals, introduces himself to Nevada and Sandy. As they talk, Trigger arrives under the pretense of questioning Nevada about the theft of the strongbox, and Nevada watches as Trigger surreptiously slices open Doc's sack. After Trigger and Doc leave, Nevada tells Sandy to sweep up and save the spilled dirt, thinking that it may prove to be a link to the murders. As Doc walks toward the Hilton house to visit Kate, he is shot and killed by Clint Baker, one of Edwards' thugs. Witnessing the attack, Nevada pursues and apprehends Baker and then delivers him to the sheriff. Meanwhile, Edwards instructs Trigger to steal the envelope locked in the Wells Fargo safe. When the jailed Baker threatens to inform on the gang, Trigger allows him to escape and then shoots him in the back. After Edwards offers the ranchers an extension on their mortgage because the strongbox containing money they need to pay off the water bonds had been stolen, Sandy and Nevada realize that their theory about water rights is invalid. Nevada and Sandy decide to examine the dirt from Doc's bag for clues, and upon discovering gold dust mixed into the soil, realize that gold is the key to the murders. After Nevada questions Kate and Joel about prospecting in the area, Kate recalls that Lin Chow, one of the murder victims, often accompanied Doc and Kate's father on hunting trips in the hills. When Nevada wonders aloud if they found gold there, Joel mentions Doc's letter. Displaying his U.S. Marshal's badge, Nevada asks to see the letter, and he and Joel proceed to the express office to open the vault, arriving just as Edwards' men dynamite the safe and remove the envelope. The robbers knock Joel out and flee, with Nevada in pursuit. Upon returning to town after losing the outlaws' trail, Nevada notices two sweating horses outside the saloon and goes inside to confront their owners. Just then, Trigger appears and arrests Nevada for the robbery of the express office. After Nevada is safely jailed, the robbers deliver Doc's letter to Edwards. When Edwards reads Doc's documentation of a rich gold vein at Oak Creek, he sends his thugs to stake out the territory. Also in the envelope is Doc's letter to Nevada, and upon discovering Nevada's true identity, Edwards orders Trigger to eliminate him. Trigger plans to release Nevada and then shoot him in the back, but he is prevented from doing so by Sandy. After locking Trigger and Swanky, one of Edwards' henchmen, in a cell, Nevada and Sandy sneak out the back door. Soon after, the sheriff comes to the office and releases the jailed deputy and Swanky, after which Nevada follows Swanky to Oak Creek. After ascertaining the area of the gold vein, Edwards convenes a meeting of the ranchers and offers to buy their lands. Just then, Nevada bursts into the room, identifies himself as a U. S. Marshal, arrests Edwards and his thugs and informs the ranchers that their land is rich in gold. Their mission completed, Nevada and Sandy say goodbye to Joel and Kate and hit the trail.

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 1, 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 31 Mar 1944
Production Company
Great Western Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Monogram Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
54m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
4,958ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

For more information on the "Nevada McKenzie" series, consult the Series Index and for The Ghost Rider.