The Saga of Hemp Brown


1h 20m 1958

Brief Synopsis

Ex-army sergeant Jed Givens and his gang rob an army payroll shipment led by Lt. Hemp Brown. Givens kills a civilian woman and all the soldiers, leaving Brown alive to face a military tribunal in which he is branded a coward, stripped of all insignia and drummed out of the army. Brown sets out to track down Givens in an effort to clear his name.

Film Details

Also Known As
Hemp Brown
Release Date
Sep 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
6,986ft

Synopsis

U.S. Calvary lieutenant Hemp Brown is escorting military wife Mrs. Ford and an Army payroll to Fort Beaver when he spots an ex-soldier, Jed Givens, hitchhiking in the road and offers him a ride. Soon, however, they are ambushed by an outlaw gang and Givens, who is the gang's leader and has set up the robbery, knocks out Hemp and kills Mrs. Ford. While his gang members steal the payroll, Givens ties Hemp's hands but leaves him with his gun and horse. As Givens has planned, when Hemp reports the incident, the fact that he still has his gun and horse, in addition to the fact that Givens was reported dead months earlier casts doubt on his story, resulting in a court-martial. Unable to prove that Givens is still alive, Hemp is officially convicted of cowardice and his name and dishonor is published in every newspaper across the country. He sets out to clear his name, with only a photograph of Givens to guide him. Hemp first returns to the scene of the robbery, and although a lonely gold miner greets him there, when the man hears his name, he refuses to talk. The disgraced soldier travels on to the nearest supply store, where he buys civilian clothes from a flirtatious shopgirl who claims not to recognize Givens' photo. When the girl's brother returns, Hemp leaves, but upon realizing that her brooch resembles that of the late Mrs. Ford, he sneaks back and demands to know where she got it. She finally admits that Givens gave her the brooch and later headed south looking for a fresh horse. Over the next days, Hemp questions each horse trader he comes upon, and at one stop, before recognizing Hemp, a cavalry officer informs him that Givens passed through days earlier on a brown and white horse. Days later, Hemp spots a brown and white horse outside Bo Slauter's tavern, and surprises Givens inside. Because the cavalry code of honor does not allow Hemp to kill in revenge, Givens knows his life is safe. Holding a gun on Givens, Hemp asks Bo to write an affidavit that Givens is alive, and plans to have Givens write a confession, but when Bo's boy enters, Givens grabs the gun and pistol-whips Hemp until he is unconscious. The outlaw is about to kill Hemp when Bo trains a rifle on him and forces him to leave. Hemp awakens, and although he clearly needs medical care, he struggles onto his horse to pursue Givens. He travels for days, abandoning his horse after it collapses, until one night he arrives just outside of San Juan. Exhausted, he demands a ride with a passing wagon, not realizing that dancer Mona Langley is sleeping in it. After waking her, he apologizes, but passes out on the floor. She asks the driver, Bolanos, to put Hemp in her bed, and as she cleans his wounds, she grows attracted to him. When he wakes up the next morning, she questions him about whether he is a gunman, and although he kisses her, he will not reveal his identity or mission. When they pass the first house in miles, Hemp demands that Bolanos stops and carefully checks inside for Givens, but finds only the owner, Floyd Leacock, who explains that a gang recently murdered his wife Nancy. At the same time that Mona deduces that Hemp is bent on finding a killer, Givens is at his hideout beating up the drunken one-armed Hook for killing Nancy and thus revealing the gang's location. Traveling on to San Juan, Mona tells Hemp that she longs for a respectable life but must dance to survive. When they reach the city, Hemp, dismayed to see Mona perform in her skimpy costume, bids her goodbye and walks through the town. The talk in the town is about finding Nancy's killers and hanging them, and when the bartender, Chang, recognizes his old friend Hemp, he warns him to lay low. Just then, Givens enters town, and when Hook sees him, he lies that Givens is the murderer. The townsmen then attack Givens and are about to lynch him. Mona, recognizing Givens from the photo Hemp carries, believes that Hemp will be pleased. She is confused, however, to see him create a commotion with a cart in order to free Givens, who runs to the sheriff for protection. The sheriff schedules a trial for that evening, and although Hook testifies that he saw Givens kill Nancy on the Fourth of July, Hemp produces Bo's letter, which, although unfinished, states that Givens was in his tavern on that date. As the tavern is hours away from the Leacocks' house, Givens is freed, but Hook retaliates by identifying Hemp as a dishonored soldier and suggests that he and Givens are in cshoots. The townsmen set out after Givens and Hemp, but with the help of Chang and Mona, Hemp evades the mob and manages to beat Hook into confessing that the stolen payroll is in San Juan. Realizing that Givens will stay near the money, and tipped off by Mona that Bolanos and Givens were in contact earlier in the day, Hemp tracks the cohorts to the stable, where they are unloading the money from the carnival wagon. Bolanos shoots, compelling Hemp to kill him and alerting the townsmen to their presence in the barn. While the mob tears down the door, Hemp battles Givens into submission and pulls him out the back door and into the street. With the angry mob closing in on them, Givens is forced by Hemp to shout out his confession and proclamation that Hemp is innocent. His name finally cleared, Hemp ushers Givens into the jailhouse, and turns to embrace Mona.

Film Details

Also Known As
Hemp Brown
Release Date
Sep 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
6,986ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Hemp Brown. A July 1956 item in New York Times reported that John Robinson was to write the film's screenplay, but he does not receive onscreen credit and his contribution, if any, to the final film has not been determined. Although a August 27, 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Malcolm Atterbury and Frank Chase to the cast, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. An September 11, 1957 Hollywood Reporter item states that Scatman Crothers was cast, but he does not appear in the film. Modern sources add Tom London, I. Stanford Jolley, Marjorie Stapp and Charles Boaz to the cast.