While trailing Forest Ranger Charles Carter (Jason Robards Sr.), who is suspected of permitting lumber man Henry Mitchell (Douglass Dumbrille) to cut restricted timber, Gene fires at a dangerous mountain lion and apparently kills Carter. Actually, Bill Wright (Damian O'Flynn), Mitchell's associate, killed Carter because the ranger had discovered tussock moth infestation in the forest, and if the infestation was not reported, the trees would die and have to be cut, thereby profiting Mitchell and Wright. In order to compensate the best he can, Gene sells his sportsman's camp and gives the money to Carter's daughter Helen (Patricia Barryas Patricia White) . En route to Texas, Gene discovers the infestation and is assigned by the Forest Department to supervise the program of spraying the area with DDT from the air. After the first day of spraying, the DDT is blamed by furious stock men for the many animals found dead of poisoning. Gene suspects a strange plane heard flying in the night ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Scenic Autry western with a few surprises. The plot is a little complex for me, and I had trouble keeping some of the look-alike characters straight. But that's probably just me. Anyhow, the story involves aerial spraying of DDT and who stands to gain or lose. In that surprising sense, the movie involves contemporary environmental issues, even in 1949. The 70-minutes is also notable for there being no Autry sidekick (Burnette or Buttram) for comedy relief. So it's pretty much straight melodrama the whole way.
Then too, as leading lady, there's the luscious Patricia Barry who later went on to a pretty extensive TV career, along with familiar baddie Douglass Dumbrille, and future Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, in a supporting role. Also, catch that very last scene, an unusually thoughtful one for a horse opera of any kind. All in all, it adds up to a different kind of Autry programmer with more noisy winged conveyances than Gene's usual 4-footed friends.
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