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Nabb controls the pass and lets all the ranchers through except Holderness and his stolen cattle. When Nabb refuses to sell, Holderness works an his son Snap who has run up gambling debts. There is more trouble when Snap becomes jealous of Judy's attraction to the surveyor Jack. When Holderness has Snap killed, everyone heads to town for the showdown. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
With this adaptation - as intrusion - of Zane Grey's novel Heritage of the Desert, Henry Hathaway begins his career as a director of feature films although little of his later imprint appears in this effort. The screenplay leaves in tatters Grey's powerful work, which deals strongly with Mormon culture in Utah in 1890, and is only recognizable by the names of characters as a product of Grey. Judson Holderness (David Landau), a cattle rustler and owner of the White Sage Saloon and Gambling Hall, is a pestilence to landowners near his ranch, and has purchased or stolen all nearby property, except for that belonging to Adam Naab (J. Farrell MacDonald). Holderness requires Naab's land in order to have a direct corridor for driving his mostly stolen herd to water, but Naab rejects the saloon owner's offer to buy, and mounts a challenge against any attempt to jump his claim by hiring a surveyor to document his boundaries. When the surveyor, Jack Hare (Randolph Scott) arrives, he spends a good deal of his time wooing Judy (Sally Blane), the ward of Naab and the fiancee of Naab's son Snap, which naturally raises the tension level at the Naab ranch. Despite this romantic conflict, Jack sides with Adam against Holderness with neither realizing that Snap is beholden to the rustler due to gambling debts incurred at the latter's saloon, and the action is prepared to go towards a violent climax. Henry Hathaway enjoyed years of critical success for his films, but in this beginning attempt there are only glimmers of his budding skill, although a poor script and ragged editing are of no assistance. David Landau's villain is pitched to an interesting sardonic level, and Sally Blane is vivacious and strives with some success to make her character interesting, but most of the cast is defeated by its dialogue.
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