Frontier Badmen
Universal Pictures
Produced and
Directed by Ford Beebe
Written by Gerald Geraghty and Morgan B. Cox

Released August 11, 1943  

     An action-packed and exciting western.  Universal combined a large group of its contract talent - several in first western appearances - in the cast.  Robert Paige, Anne Gwynne, Diana Barrymore and Lon Chaney join up with western vets Noah Beery, Jr., Andy Devine, Leo Carrillo and William Farnum to provide good cast mounting.

     Yarn concerns efforts of Texas ranchers to break up cattle-buying monopoly at the Abilene, Kansas, railhead, with Paige leading the battle to prevent rooking of the ranchers through controlled low prices for cattle.  Noah Berry, Jr. as Paige's sidekick, generates a restrained romance with Texas girl, Miss Gwynne, while Paige initially outwits card dealer Diana Barrymore, but flirts around long enough to fall in love with the latter.

     Devine and Carrillo provide their usual comedy and dialect routines for generous audience reaction; Thomas Gomez heads the cattle ring while Chaney is his willing henchman anxious for gunplay at all times.

     The tale moves at a fast gait.  Cast is well set up.  Miss Gwynne clicks as the Texas charmer while Miss Barrymore catches attention as the dealer; Paige and Beery, Jr. deliver nice fitting performances while Chaney grooves as psycho partner to heavy Gomez.


 

Cast:

Robert Paige

Anne Gwynne ... Chris Prentice

Noah Berry, Jr.

Diana Barrymore

Lon Chaney

Len Carrillo

Andy Devine

Thomas Gomez

William Farnum

Production:

Gerald Geraghty and Morgan B. Cox- Writers 

Ford Beebe- Director & Producer

William Sickner- Cinematographer

Fred Feitshans, Jr.- Editor

Full Storyline

Texas cattlemen Steve Logan and Jim Caldwell bring their herd into the boom town of Abilene, Texas. Steve immediately falls for gambler Claire, even though she attempts to cheat him at cards. Steve then learns that, while cattle sells for twenty-three dollars a head in Kansas City, it sells for only eleven dollars a head in Abilene, as an unknown middle man controls the city's cattle market. When an Eastern cattle buyer complains about the situation, he is immediately killed.

In an attempt to flush out the murderous combine leader, Steve agrees to buy trail boss Courtwright's herd at a higher price over Jim's objections. After Courtwright is killed in an ambush, Steve and Jim ride out to his camp and meet his boss, cattlewoman Chris Prentise (Anne Gwynne). Jim immediately falls in love with Chris, and asks the handsome Steve to stay away from her.

The next morning, the sheriff orders Steve and Jim to move their new herd off rancher Lindsay's land, so they bring the cattle into town. Steve then auctions off the cattle for eighteen dollars a head, and announces that he has a lead to the identity of the head of the combine. Saloon owner Ballard, who is the combine leader, realizes that Steve and Jim have connected him to Lindsay, so he orders the rancher to leave town. Cowboys Slim, Chinito and Cherokee capture the escaping rancher, who then confesses that Ballard is his boss. Lindsay is killed, however, by Ballard's henchman Chango before the cattlemen can take him to the sheriff.

Ballard later admits to being the head of the combine, but points out that there is no proof of any criminal involvement on his part. Steve and Jim then set up a cattlemen's association in Abilene. The quick success of the association soon goes to Steve's head, much to the dismay of Chris, who has fallen in love with him. Steve tells Claire, however, that he sees Chris as Jim's girl, as they "were made for each other."

The heartbroken Chris prepares to leave town, but Jim stops her by confessing his love, while agreeing to get Steve for her. Jim then tells Steve that he wants him to return to Texas with Chris and him. Steve refuses, and the two break up their partnership. When Steve learns that Ballard's men plan to ambush Jim, however, he rushes to his old friend's aid. While Steve saves Jim from the ambush, their herd is destroyed by a fire set by Ballard's men. Steve then goes into the cattlemen's association and forces Ballard to pay for the dead cattle.

A shootout ensues, and the sheriff arrests Steve as the instigator. Claire warns Chris that Ballard is organizing a lynch party, so Chris rides off to tell Jim. To save Steve, Jim stampedes a second herd through the town. In the ensuing shootouts, both Ballard and Chango are killed by Jim, and Claire is wounded while handing Jim a gun. Afterward, Jim and Chris are united, as are Steve and Claire, and the four decide to return home to Texas.

 

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