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Trail Street

Trail Street(1947)

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In the late nineteenth-century, the town of Liberal, Kansas is under siege by trail riders, outlaws who have been hired by cattlemen to terrorize farmers and drive livestock across their parched fields. At the request of Allen Harper, the area's biggest land investor, Billy Burns has written to his friend, U.S. Marshal Bat Masterson, for help. Allen and Billy hope that the legendary lawman will assume the job of sheriff and bring law and order to the town. Allen also hopes that his sweetheart, Susan Pritchard, will not return to the East with crooked cattleman Logan Maury as she has threatened, but will brave the tough times in Liberal with him. When Lance Larkin, one of Maury's henchmen, begins beating up a farmer in the middle of the street, Allen comes to his rescue and is aided by Bat, who has just arrived in town. Liberal's mayor formally appoints Bat sheriff, and Bat makes a reluctant Billy his deputy. As Bat, Billy and Allen then discuss farmer Tim McKeon's secret plans to grow drought-resistant crops, Larkin listens from his jailhouse cell and relays the news to Maury. When Allen and Billy visit the feisty Tim, who was injured battling the trail riders, Allen insists that he borrow his gun for protection. In town, meanwhile, Maury tries to bribe Bat to take his side, but Bat stoutly refuses and easily thwarts Maury's attempt on his life. Later, Allen is visited at home by Ruby Stone, a saloon singer who is in love with Maury. Jealous of Susan, Ruby, who has known Allen since childhood, warns him about her involvement with Maury and angrily leaves. Ruby's departure is witnessed by Hannah, Allen's nosey neighbor, and when Susan sees Hannah the next day, she gleefully informs her about the visit. Susan, who is unaware that Allen's parents adopted Susan as a child, snubs Allen at her birthday party that night and dances with Maury. Later, Susan refuses to listen to Allen's explanations and informs him that she is leaving the next day with Maury. Bat, meanwhile, learns that Tim has been murdered with Allen's gun and that a mob, led by crooked saloon keeper Carmody, is forming to lynch Allen. Sure that Larkin, whom he released earlier from jail, is the killer, Bat rushes to Allen's and, after deputizing him, sends him to the next county to find Larkin. To Carmody's chagrin, Bat, who has issued a "no gun" ordinance in Liberal, then deflates the mob. Allen, meanwhile, captures Larkin at a farmhouse and learns that the farm couple's son has planted winter wheat in the blazing Kansas sun and has successfully raised a crop. Ecstatic, Allen rides back to Liberal with Larkin and a bag of wheat seed, but soon discovers that most of the poor farmers have just sold their mortgages to Maury. When the townspeople and farmers become aware of Maury's legal "cheat," they eagerly align themselves with Bat, who plans to trap Maury by announcing his intention to try Larkin for Tim's murder. As predicted, Maury rallies his men to attack Liberal and free Larkin, but they are stopped by Bat, Allen, a forgiving Susan and an army of angry farmers. Ruby, who is no longer in love, then informs Maury that she burned his unrecorded land sales receipts and has consequently made his purchases null and void. Furious at Ruby's betrayal, Maury shoots her in the back, but is then killed by his own men, who condemn him as a "woman killer." With law and order installed in Liberal, Bat heads for the East to become a journalist, while Susan and Allen marry and Billy is named the new sheriff.