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Kelly Hansen, the tough boss of a timber crew clearing property owned by Jessie Crain and her niece, Sharon Wilks, is, unknown to anybody else, working to pay back money stolen by his brother, Joe Roberts, who has a changed name, and no love for his brother. Just as the debt is about paid-off, Joe is killed in a truck accident, which starts a blazing forest fire. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
This begins tolerably well since the focus is on the ever-reliable Agnes Moorehead who, needing money to send her niece to the city, decides to sell off 200 acres of timber on her land in Nevada. Moorehead hires John Payne to oversee the work. Yes, he's tough and irascible and hard-driving -- maybe too hard-driving -- but he'll get the job done. Payne hires a ragtag group of timberjacks and the set-up is complete.
Unfortunately, the story at this point drifts into "personal drama." One of the timberjacks knows Payne from "way back" and they obvious have a troubling history and Payne grows to resent the way this timberjack begins to woo Moorehead's niece. None of this is particularly compelling and it leaves a dead spot in the middle of the movie.
Things pick up toward the end with the Big Forest Fire but the movie never quite gets back to the modest but encouraging promise it showed in its opening reel.
Note to fans of John Payne's chest -- and they are legion! -- despite all that hard, sweaty work involved in chopping down trees, he never once takes his shirt off.
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