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Toughest Man in Arizona


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Western, USA, 1952, 85 min.

Synopsis In 1881, U.S. Marshal Matt Landry captures Frank Girard and is taking him to Tombstone, Arizona, to stand trial for selling guns and whiskey to the Apaches when he finds Mary Kimber and two children, Davey and Jesse Billings, whose small wagon train was raided by the Apaches. In the attack, seven people were killed, including Davey and Jesse's parents and Mary's husband Verne, whose body is believed to have been burned by the fire. When the Apaches return for a second attack, Matt must rely on Frank to help fight them off. Frank tries to escape, but Matt outwits him and the group proceeds to town. There Sheriff Jim Hadlock takes Frank into custody, while Matt, a widower with two children, takes Mary, Davey and Jesse home. Through Della, a dance hall girl who is in love with him, Frank contacts his brothers, Steve and Gerry, to make plans for his escape. Della is with them in Galeyville when Verne shows up claiming that he has been robbed by Apaches. After reading the newspaper reports about Verne's heroic death, the Girards smirk at his cowardly deceit, but when they learn that he is a telegrapher, they play on his fear of being discovered. Aware that he wants to go to San Francisco, they offer him two hundred dollars if he will intercept telegraph messages for them until they free Frank, and set up makeshift equipment for him in a hotel room. Meanwhile, in Tombstone, Matt is sorry to learn that Mary has arranged for a room at a boardinghouse and a job at the newspaper, because he is falling in love with her. However, the day before she is to leave, Jim asks Matt to transport Frank to Prescott to keep him safe from lynching, and the lawmen arrange for a hearse to smuggle Frank and Matt out of town. However, in open country the hearse is ambushed and Frank freed. The undertaker driving the vehicle is killed and Matt is injured, but manages to ride back to town, where Mary stays with him during his convalescence. Matt proposes to her, but she is reluctant to answer, in spite of being happy with Matt and the four children. She explains that she feels more guilt than grief, as her refusal to support Verne's many get-rich-quick schemes and her insistence on his getting a steady job in Tombstone led to his death. In Galeyville, meanwhile, Verne retrieves a telegraph message reporting an $80,000 silver shipment from a nearby mine, and negotiates with the three Girards for a fourth of the booty in exchange for the details. When the silver freight is ambushed and robbed, Matt and Jim eventually conclude that information is being leaked through the telegraph and find indications of Della's trips to Galeyville when they read recently sent messages. They confront her, but believing Frank is out of the territory and planning to send for her, she is reticent to speak, until they tell her that he just robbed the mine and has dumped her. She then tells them about Verne's telegraph setup in the Galeyville hotel room. Matt and Jim form a posse and ride there, and find Verne lurking in the stable where the silver shipment is hidden, deciding his next move, as the Girards have refused to pay him as promised. Verne convinces Matt and Jim that the Girards held him against his will. The lawmen then lure the Girards out of the bar for a shootout. As Verne cowers in the stable, the Girards are killed, and eventually everyone has been shot except Matt and Jim. While attempting to escape with the silver, Verne shoots Jim in the back, but runs out of bullets before he can get Matt, who then arrests him. Verne is taken to Prescott to stand trial for murder, where a hanging verdict seems certain. From his jail cell, Verne asks for Mary, and she decides to go to him out of duty. Matt tries to convince her to stay in Tombstone, but she feels obligated to Verne as he has no one else. Matt says goodbye and sadly takes the children to the stagecoach to see her off. After the coach leaves, Matt's young, but worldy-wise daughter Joanie explains that in time, Mary will come back to him.


Directed by R.G. Springsteen  

Starring Vaughn Monroe, Joan Leslie, Edgar Buchanan, Victor Jory, Jean Parker, more...

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