Tom and five older respected business men run the Sierra mine. When Tom leaves for Europe to fight in WW1, everything is OK. When he returns after the war he finds his former assistant not ... See full summary »
This is the reason I watch TCM - you won't run across little gems like this anywhere else. This low budget western does something other films of the early 30's that are going into the past of 10 or 15 years before seldom do - pay attention to getting the art design and costumes right for the times. That's particularly important here because this story is one of the west in transition - starting in about 1917 and ending about 1920. World War I has begun and Tom (Tom Keene) is getting ready to leave his job in the gold mine and ship off with the army. As he rides into town to say goodbye we see a place in transition - horses share the streets with autos, there's a stop sign and a traffic cop, and even a sign that cautions people to drive slowly.
While Tom is away everything runs amok. There's an embezzler that has wormed himself into the partnership that runs the mine. He thinks he's safe because he believes he's dealing with a bunch of clueless old yokels. However, the town bank president figures this guy out and makes the unfortunate decision to tell him so when the two are alone. The embezzler shoots him dead to keep him from talking. Now this embezzler is a lucky guy. The banker had pen in hand when he was shot and had just written out the name of Daniel Plummer on a piece of paper - that had to do with some business the two were transacting. The embezzler lies and says he heard Daniel and the banker arguing and it looks like the banker was writing the name of his murderer on the piece of paper. Pop Plummer is arrested for murder. Now the three older surviving partners know Pop is innocent and haven't quite figured out that law and order have now begun to overtake the west. These energetic 50-something pioneers that tamed a wilderness together figure out a novel plan - they'll bust Pop out of jail, hide out in the hills that they know so well, and rob the car taking the gold from the mine occasionally to extract their share of the mining profits. They even leave signed receipts behind with the drivers they robbed saying that's what they're doing.
Meanwhile Tom returns from war and is hired as a deputy to bring "the silver four" in for a trial and promised by the sheriff that the trial will be fair. Tom finds them and talks them into returning with him. No handcuffs are necessary. However there is one big hitch - the embezzler is also the mayor and fires the honest sheriff, replacing him with one of his henchmen. Since the honest judge is one of the gang in jail, the judge on the bench is also eating out of the embezzler's hand. Can Tom figure out a way to straighten this mess out when the current legal machinery of his town is filled with corruption? Watch and find out.
This film is a hoot from beginning to end with plenty of action and a mix of old and new. For example there's a fighting match right out of a WB James Cagney picture inserted into the plot. There's the humorous Edgar Kennedy returning with Tom from war. He's used to a more urban environment so he starts a taxi cab company in the town. Pop Plummer's daughter starts up an open-air lunch counter like you'd find in New York City. The older guys all wear traditional western garb but the younger fellows may wear western clothes or they may wear a more modern suit when in town. Finally the big finale involves a shoot-out with gangsters imported from the big city and even a machine gun right out of prohibition.
I'd highly recommend this one to anyone, even if you're not a big western fan. This is not your typical early talkie western with an "aw shucks" lone hero all dressed in white that spends his spare time strumming a guitar and singing to his horse under the stars.