Three Young Texans

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Western, USA, 1954, 77 min.

Synopsis In modern day Texas, high-spirited Tony Ballew and Johnny Colt have been friends since childhood, although they are rivals for the affections of the tomboyish Rusty Blair, for whose father both young men work. At the end of a cattle drive from Maverick, their home town, Blair pays the hands at Eagle Pass, and Tony goes to the saloon to gamble. When he loses his wages, he pleads with Johnny to lend him some money. Johnny grudgingly acquiesces, and the pair wind up winning seven hundred dollars. Johnny insists on holding the money, with which he wants to buy stock for both his and Tony's future ranch as well as his father's ranch, which was decimated by a drought. After his return, Johnny goes to the railroad depot where his father Jim works as a telegrapher. Jim refuses to accompany Johnny home, however, instead preferring to cross the Rio Grande to El Norte, Mexico, where he often goes to play poker. Johnny disparages his father's gambling, but Jim maintains that it is the only way to rebuild his herd. In El Norte, Jim plays cards with Bill McAdoo, Catur and Joe, who, unknown to Jim, is actually Apache Joe, the leader of a notorious band of outlaws. Jim gets drunk as he plays, and McAdoo takes advantage of his state by dealing off the bottom of the deck. Jim spots the cheating, however, and after accusing McAdoo, is forced to shoot at him in self-defense. Telling Jim that McAdoo is dead, Catur and Joe hustle him across the border, although actually, McAdoo is only slightly injured. The next day, the two men arrive at Jim's ranch, and a suspicious Johnny eavesdrops as they warn Jim that unless he cooperates with their robbery of that night's train, which carries a $50,000 payroll, they will tell the authorities that he shot McAdoo in cold blood. Jim agrees, but that night, as Tony and Rusty wait for Johnny to join them at a dance in Maverick, Johnny robs the train before the outlaws can, in order to protect his father. Johnny hides the money in an abandoned shack in Red Canyon, but Jim recognizes the clay that Johnny has forgotten to scrape off his boots, and assumes that he has hidden their seven hundred dollars at the shack, which they discovered when they were children. During the dance, Sheriff Dan Carter interrupts to announce that he needs volunteers to pursue the robber, who he assumes is a local man. Johnny reluctantly joins the posse, which begins checking the alibis of nearby ranchers. The following morning, Dan questions Johnny himself, whose lie for being late for the dance has been exposed. Tony asserts that Johnny could not be the bandit because he was hiding their gambling winnings, and when Dan insists on checking the hiding place, Johnny is amazed that the hole contains only seven hundred dollars, rather than the entire payroll. That afternoon, at the Blair ranch, Tony admits to Johnny that he has hidden the money, and Johnny demands that he return it, as he intends to give it back to the railroad. Believing that the money is their big break, Tony refuses, and soon the two men are fighting. Rusty breaks up the fistfight and mistakenly concludes that Tony innocently found the stolen money and that Johnny is preventing him from returning it. Later, Dan is suspicious when he sees Tony buying a shirt and insists on verifying his story that Rusty gave him some money. While they are riding to question Rusty, Tony escapes from Dan, who then assumes that he is the bandit. Meanwhile, Catur goes to the Colt ranch, where he accuses Jim of tipping Johnny off about the robbery. When Johnny confronts Catur, the outlaw reveals that Joe is actually Apache Joe, and Johnny outdraws him and forces him to leave. Rusty then arrives and informs Johnny about Tony's troubles, and when they find Tony, he again refuses to divulge the payroll's location. Tony wants to hide in Mexico until the posse stops looking for him, then escape to California, but Johnny accompanies him to El Norte to keep an eye on him. The next day, Joe and his men capture Johnny and beat him, but when Tony reveals that he is the one with the payroll, they agree to let Johnny go. That night, Johnny admits to Rusty and Dan that he is the bandit, and, hoping that Dan can find Tony before he gets into more trouble, states that he will only give the money to Tony. Meanwhile, Joe forces Tony to accompany the gang to Maverick, where they start a fire to distract the posse away from Red Canyon. Back at the Colt ranch, Dan attempts to arrest Johnny, and Jim finally admits that Johnny robbed the train to save him. Taking Dan prisoner, Johnny, Jim and Rusty ride to the canyon to find Tony, and there they see McAdoo and realize that Catur had lied about his death. After Tony retrieves the money, a gunfight begins, and Tony grabs Catur as he is about to shoot Johnny, but is himself shot in the back by Joe. Catur and McAdoo are killed, and Johnny pursues Joe while Rusty tends to Tony, who admits before dying the truth about stealing the payroll from Johnny. Johnny then catches up to Joe, who falls to his death from a high cliff. Johnny returns to the relieved Rusty and gives the money to Dan, who announces that Johnny will receive a $10,000 reward for killing Joe. As they walk off arm-in-arm, Johnny and Rusty remember their friend, who had sworn that he would give up the payroll in order to save their lives.

Directed by Henry Levin  

Starring Mitzi Gaynor, Jeffrey Hunter, Keefe Brasselle, Harvey Stephens, Dan Riss, more...

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