powered by AFI
On his very first day as the marshal of Laredo, Red Ryder and his Indian ward, Little Beaver, are called to duty when bank courier Barton is robbed and shoots at the fleeing robber, Ferguson. Ferguson throws the money into a water trough, from which it is collected by his cohort, Pretty Boy Murphy. While Red chases and arrests Ferguson, Pretty Boy takes the money to his boss, saloon owner Denver Jack, and develops a photograph he took of Ferguson committing the robbery. Denver intends to use the photograph to keep Ferguson in line, if the need should ever arise, and he has similar blackmail material on all of his henchmen. Pretty Boy, who was badly scarred in a fire, is constantly terrorized by Denver's threatening use of matches. Denver calls his lawyer, Larry Randall, who informs him that Ferguson will have to be released if Barton does not identify him. After he is horsewhipped by Pretty Boy, Barton refuses to identify Ferguson, and Red is forced to set him free. Larry is stunned by Denver's cruel methods, however, and he in turn is snubbed by his pretty fiancée, Judy Bowers, who is angry that he works for Denver. Larry is also upset because Judy's father, banker Mel Bowers, orders him never to see his daughter again. Determined to win Judy, Larry breaks with Denver and retrieves the loot, which he returns to Bowers. During their discussion, Bowers agrees to allow Larry to marry Judy if he "stays straight" for six months, but their conference ends when Pretty Boy guns down Bowers. Red arrests Larry for the murder, and Dr. Allen, who was present at the beginning of Larry and Bowers' conversation, claims that he saw Larry kill Bowers. Larry is mystified, as Allen had left before the shooting, but he realizes that Denver must be blackmailing Allen when Denver offers to get Larry released if he will return to work for him. Larry refuses, and Allen's damning testimony results in his conviction. Red's suspicions of Denver have grown, however, and he arranges for Larry to break out of jail, then follows him to Allen's office. There, Larry confronts the doctor, who admits that Denver is blackmailing him. Red bursts in and orders Allen to write a confession, but before he can finish it, Pretty Boy shoots him through a window. Denver stirs up the gathering crowd against Red, claiming that he is in league with Larry, but Larry, Red and Little Beaver escape. That night, Red sneaks into Denver's office and finds his blackmail materials. Denver and Pretty Boy capture Red, then trap Little Beaver and Larry when they attempt to help Red. Larry is returned to jail while Pretty Boy watches over Red and Little Beaver. Red starts a fire, which forces Pretty Boy to free him. After obtaining a confession from Pretty Boy detailing the murders of Bowers and Allen, Red stops the hanging of Larry. With Larry freed and the criminals arrested, Red and Little Beaver happily watch as Larry reunites with Judy and his mother.