Abilene Town (January 11, 1946)
Released January 11, 1946: Can't we all just get along? The Civil War is over, and in Abilene Kansas another may start if Randolph Scott cannot keep the cattlemen at peace with the homesteaders in this divided town.
Directed by Edwin L. Marin
Written by Ernest Haycox with screenplay by Harold Shumate.
The Actors: Randolph Scott (Dan Mitchell), Ann Dvorak (Rita), Edgar Buchanan (Sheriff 'Bravo'Trimble ), Rhonda Fleming (Sherry Balder), Lloyd Bridges (Henry Dreiser), Helen Boyce (Big Annie), Howard Freeman (Ed Balder), Richard Hale (Charlie Fair), Jack Lambert (Jet Younger), Hank Patterson (Doug Neil), Dick Curtis ('Cap' Ryker), Earl Schenck (George Hazelhurst), Eddy Waller (Hannaberry), Walter Baldwin (train conductor), Polly Bond (town girl number 1), Paul Brinegar (gambler), Victor Cox (barfly), Dick Elliott (jailbreak messenger), Morgan Flowers (homesteader), Chick Hannan (cowhand), Chubby Johnson (homesteader), Bob Perry (bartender), Buddy Roosevelt (Slim, cowhand), Maryellen Sennett (town girl number 2), Harry Tenbrook (first wagon driver caught in the stampede), Guy Wilkerson (fan-tan player with Sheriff 'Bravo' Trimble).
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Abilene Kansas, a small town west of the Mississippi that is divided right down the middle of Texas Street. One side of the street hosts the town saloon and the wild side of life. The other side of the street is for the shops and the church and the gentle side of life. Dan Mitchell is town Marshall, and it's his job to keep the peace between the two sides. Trouble is, some of the merchants are more interested in profits than in a peaceful town. For them, it isn't a problem if a townsman or a cattle man or a farmer gets killed once in a while, just as long as they all come to town to buy their goods. There is another division in this town also. There is a pretty young girl named Sherry on the church side of Texas Street that has eyes for Dan, and there is also Rita, a sultry saloon singer with a bit of 'wild' in her that also likes Dan. And Dan has a bit of a wild eye for Rita, too.
A wagon train of new settlers from Ohio pulls into Abilene town with the intention of staking out some of the land offered by the government and building farms and starting a new life in the west. Of course the cattlemen, accustomed to having all of the land themselves is not happy with this. They hire Jet Younger to come to town and make trouble for the new settlers. On the train coming into town, Younger robs the passengers and gets away clean. Did I mention that besides town Marshall Dan, there is a county Sheriff that has the back-bone of a jelly fish, and all intentions of dying in his sleep at a very old age. He does everything he can to avoid conflict, feeling it's better to let bygones be bygones. So a bandit or killer causes a bit of trouble, just let him be, and let things cool down, and no one, especially him, gets hurt.
Next Younger leads a gang of men to burn down one of the homesteader's house and barn, and is recognized. Among this mix of wild and lawless town, Marshall Dan seems to have the smarts to not only stay alive, but to convince people to do things that they really don't want to do. He can make people rise above the morals that they got up in the morning with, to do 'the right thing' instead of taking the path of least resistance. But there is more here than one man may be able to handle. After the homesteaders start fencing in their farms, the cattlemen stampede their herds over the homestead land and a few homesteaders are killed.
Now we have a showdown coming . . . the cattlemen are headed for town to tear it apart, and the homesteaders are making a stand for their right to farm. As the tension builds, towns folk are forced to make the decision that they have always been able to avoid . . . do they side with the farmers, or with the cattle men? Soon the cattlemen arrive and start tearing the town apart, with only Marshall Dan standing in their way. What happens next? I sure hope you have enough popcorn made and a tall chilled beverage next to you because you sure won't want to stop the movie now. The end is near, and it's every man for himself!