Riding the Sunset Trail
Cast & Crew
When Jay Lynch's henchmen shoot at cattle rancher Jim Dawson, then chase him on horseback, Dawson attempts to escape on foot, but is shot and falls off a cliff into a river. The men report to Lynch that Dawson, his half-brother, is dead, paving the way for Lynch to use a forged will to inherit all of Dawson's property. Some time later, Dawson, whose hat was found in the river, is declared dead and the will is read. As the will makes no provisions for Dawson's daughters, Betty and her little sister Sugar, Lynch tries to evict them from the ranch, but Betty refuses to leave. Lynch pays off Betty's ranch hands and moves all the cattle to his pasture. Meanwhile, cowboy Tom Sterling and his pal, Lopez Mendoza, ride into the area, and have a run-in with Lynch's men, who drive them off an open trail. When Tom stops at Lynch's ranch to ask for directions to the Dawson ranch, he and Lynch become involved in a fistfight. Tom and Lopez then offer to work for Betty, but she tells them that Lynch has her entire herd. That night, Tom and Lopez help Betty and Sugar to move the cattle back to her property. The next day, Lynch goes to see Betty, under a flag of truce, and informs her that he has sent for the sheriff with the intention of charging her with cattle rustling. However, when the sheriff arrives, Tom claims the cattle are his and produces a bill of sale signed by Dawson. Momentarily stymied, Lynch, who owes money to a man in Mexico named Gordon, who has agreed to accept a hundred head of cattle as settlement, decides to get Tom out of the way. Pecos Dean, a hired gun sent by Gordon to oversee the cattle transfer, proposes that he will kill Tom for $1,000. Unknown to Lynch and Pecos, Tom is actually an undercover lawman, who has been assigned to stop cattle thefts in the area and needs to identify the stolen stock buyers. Later, a stranger working for Lynch tells Tom that Lynch controls all the water in the area and intends to shut off the supply to the Dawson ranch. The stranger offers to put Tom in touch with a cattle buyer at Wagon Springs. While Tom and Lopez head there with the herd, Betty and Sugar ride off in a different direction. Tom goes on ahead of the herd and is able to prevent Pecos from shooting Lopez in an ambush. Pecos turns and shoots at Tom, but Tom shoots him in the hand. Tom then recognizes Pecos as a man who had earlier promised Tom that he would go straight. Pecos has been followed by Lynch's man, Bronco West, who overhears Pecos explain to Tom that Gordon has been buying stolen cattle from Lynch for about a year. After Bronco reports to Lynch that Pecos has double-crossed them, Lynch then decides to frame Tom for Dawson's death and sends for the sheriff. However, Tom, Lopez and Pecos arrive before the sheriff and a gunfight erupts, during which Pecos is shot. When the sheriff arrives, Lynch demands that he arrest Tom for Dawson's murder, but Betty and Sugar ride up with Dawson, who is alive and well. Tom tells the sheriff to arrest Lynch for attempting to murder Dawson. Later, Tom explains that Dawson had asked the cattlemen's association to investigate the rustling and was on his way to meet Tom when he was shot. Tom and Lopez found him, patched him up, then kept him out of sight to see what would develop. With the Dawson ranch peaceful once more, Tom and Lopez head for the border, where Lopez has an appointment to get married.