Sundown Riders


56m 1948

Brief Synopsis

This film was produced and released in 1944 by Film Enterprises for the 16mm school-and-institutional market, and was picked up and released in 1948 by Astor for theatrical 35mm showings. Both versions finds the citizens of Rockford upset over a series of murders and robberies. The Sundowners, Andy Clyde (Andy Clyde), Jay Kirby (Jay Kirby) and Russ Wade (Russell Wade), ride into Rockford and innocently takes jobs with Tug Wilson (Jack Ingram) and his tough crew of line riders, who are in cahoots with Yeager (Hal Price) in a big land swindle scheme. The Sundowners fight their way out of Wilson's camp, and seeing a runaway, give chase and rescue Donna Fraser (Evelyn Finley, who, in the real world, could outride all three of them), daughter of Dan Fraser (Steve Clark), who owns the land Yeager is after. They join forces with local Ranger Bob Casey (Marshall Reed) against the Wilson/Yeager faction. Seeking to escape, Wilson kills Yeager, kidnaps Donna and heads for the Mexican border. The Sundowners and Casey, aided by a faithful Indian friend (Bill Hazlet/Chief Many Treaties), ride down the outlaws and rescue Donna.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1948
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Major 16mm Productions
Distribution Company
Film Enterprises, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
56m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
4,815ft (6 reels)

Synopsis

When a messenger from the Rockford mine is murdered and his delivery of gold stolen, the ranchers and miners, anxious to bring an end to the prevailing lawlessness, threaten to form a vigilante group. Bob Casey, an Arizona Ranger, appeals to the ranchers' common sense and promises to bring to justice the leader of the outlaws. Meanwhile, itinerant cowhands Russ Wade, Jay Kirby and Andy Clyde are hired by Tug Wilson. When Russ and Jay begin to suspect that Tug and his minions are operating on the wrong side of the law, they decide to quit, thus provoking a fight with the outlaws. After routing Tug and his gang, Andy, Russ and Jay ride out of camp, passing Yeager, a businessman, on the trail. Yeager, the covert leader of the gang, has come to order Tug to intercept a letter that Donna Fraser, the daughter of horse rancher John Fraser, has just picked up from the mail train. As Donna guides her wagon to her father's ranch, Curly and Dale, two of the outlaws, attack. Hearing the sound of gunfire, Jay, Russ and Andy ride to Donna's rescue and then accompany her home. In gratitude, Fraser hires the trio to help with the chores. When Donna hands the letter to her father, he expresses relief, because it contains a bank draft that will enable him to pay off the mortgage on the ranch. Soon after, Bob, the sheriff and Donna's sweetheart, arrives with news of the messenger's murder. Upon discovering that Fraser has hired three new ranch hands, Bob becomes suspicious, but after Donna vouches for their character, Bob enlists their help and deputizes them. Later, Yeager tenders an offer to buy the ranch, but Fraser refuses to sell, prompting Yeager to direct Tug to kill the rancher before he can reach the bank the next morning. Meanwhile, Bob and his deputies investigate the site of the messenger's murder and discover a silver concho from a horse's bridle. After matching the concho to one of the horses in Tug's camp, Jay determines to find definitive proof of the gang's involvement and sneaks into the outlaws' cabin in search of the stolen saddlebags. Interrupted by the gang, Jay escapes with an empty gold sack imprinted with the mining company's name.The following morning, as Fraser makes his way to town, Tug shoots him from his horse. Before passing out, Fraser crawls to a nearby rock and shoves the letter underneath, concealing it from Tug. While driving his wagon along the trail, Sam, a neighboring rancher, finds Fraser unconscious and after taking him home, reports the incident to Bob. The ranchers have congregated at the ranger station, and when news comes of Fraser's assault, they decide to defy Bob and forge their own brand of justice. When Yeager suggests that Fraser's new ranch hands may be responsible for the attack, the newly formed vigilantes ride in search of the trio. Yeager, meanwhile, has discovered that Tug has failed in his mission to kill Fraser and consequently, refuses to pay him. In response, Tug guns him down and then leads his gang in the direction of the Mexican border. Hearing the sound of gunshots, Russ and Jay ride to investigate, and are poised over Yeager's body when the vigilantes appear. The mob accuses the pair of murder and is about to lynch them when Bob arrives, identifies them as his deputies and orders the vigilantes to disband. While riding toward the Fraser ranch with his gang, Tug decides to steal the horses and sell them across the border. As he approaches the ranch house, Tug takes Donna hostage and threatens to kill her father unless she accompanies him across the border. Upon returning to the ranch, Bob and his deputies learn from Indian Charlie, one of the hands, of Donna's peril. Advised by Charlie that Donna's dog, Killer, can track Donna and her captors, Bob and his deputies follow the dog to the outlaws' camp. To divert the gang, Russ sends his steed Dice to lead the the horses out of the camp. When the outlaws follow the stampeding herd, they ride right into the lawmen's trap. After Tug and the others are captured, Bob embraces Donna and Jay, while Russ and Andy ride to their next adventure.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1948
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Major 16mm Productions
Distribution Company
Film Enterprises, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
56m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
4,815ft (6 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although Rodney Graham is credited onscreen as the screenplay writer, both the Daily Variety and Variety reviews credit Lambert Hillyer with the screenplay and Graham Walsh with the original story. According to the Daily Variety review, the Major 16mm Production company was formed to produce a series of western features, to be filmed in 16mm Kodachrome and distributed to the home and school market, thus bypassing theatrical exhibition. The company consisted of western stars Russell Wade and George Kirby, as well as producer H. V. George and cameraman Alan Stensvold, who worked without salary for a percentage of the profits. The film was produced in 1944 but was not released theatrically until 1948 when Film Enterprises, a small Denver company, blew up some prints to 35mm and made them available to independent distributors. Although the film was shot in color, the viewed print was in black and white.