Cast & Crew
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, American civilization surges westward and with it, the Dalton family, who pull up stakes in Missouri to move to a farm in Kansas. Years later, lawyer Tod Jackson, a boyhood friend passing through Kansas on his way to Oklahoma, stops to visit the Daltons and is convinced by Bob Dalton to stay and defend the farmers against the Kansas Land and Development Company, which has been using rigged surveys to confiscate their lands. Tod's first case is to defend Ben Dalton, who is brought to trial on trumped-up charges of murder by Rigby, the head of the Development Company. Ben's hearing erupts into an armed brawl, and the Daltons, forced to shoot their way out of the courtroom, are transformed from peaceloving farmers to hunted fugitives. Eager for sensationalism, the press begins to pin every robbery on the brothers, who, hardened by a world turned against them, decide to rob the stage carrying the payroll of the despised Development Company. When the Dalton house is burned to the ground and Ben, shot in the back while trying to reason with the vigilante mob, the brothers are irrevocably thrust outside the law, and their reputation spreads to four states. Meanwhile Tod, who has remained behind to defend his friends, falls in love with Bob's fiancée, Julie King. Planning to go their separate ways, the brothers return home and, despite Bob's opposition, decide to pull one last robbery at the town bank. As they ride to their target, Tod finally uncovers evidence that proves that the Development Company is an illegal front for local speculator Caleb Winters. After confronting Winters with his treachery, Tod leaves the office and Winters, glimpsing the Daltons on the street, alerts the sheriff. The boys then meet their deaths at gunpoint in the streets of their home town.
Bernard B. Brown
Mrs. Emmett Dalton
R. A. Gausman
According to news items in Hollywood Reporter, the book on which this film is based was an autobiography of Emmett Dalton, the sole survivor of the gang's last stand, as told to Jack Jungmeyer, Sr. Hollywood Reporter production charts list Stuart Anthony and Lester Cole as screenwriters for the film, and although they are credited in the Variety review, they are not credited on screen, in Screen Achievements Bulletin or in other sources. Mrs. Emmett Dalton was engaged as a consultant on the film, according to a March 1940 Hollywood Reporter item. Another news item in Hollywood Reporter adds that Randolph Scott replaced Walter Pidgeon in the role of Tod Jackson after Pidgeon became ill. Several other films based on the life of the Daltons have been produced. In 1945, Universal made The Daltons Ride Again, directed by Ray Taylor and starring Alan Curtis and Kent Taylor, and in 1957, United Artists released The Dalton Girls, directed by Reginald LeBorg and starring Merry Anders and Penny Edwards.