The peace-loving owner of a general store, who became a town hero when he luckily killed the leader of a gang of bank robbers, is deserted by the townspeople who fear the threatened return of the vengeful bandits.
In Tomahawk, the crooked Jackman brothers control the town, Sheriff Dunham is up for re-election, the sheep growers are banned in town and a stagecoach line undercover investigator arrives to catch the gang that regularly robs the stages.
The Dennis gang wants to rob the bank of the sleepy peaceful town of Plainview, Texas. Small town banks like this one have less money than large city banks but they're easy prey. Barlow, the gang's contact in town, assures them that Plainview only has an old marshal, Pete MacKay, who shouldn't pose any problem. The gang heads to Plainview. In town, storekeeper Jack Wright runs his store with wife Martha and brother-in-law Wally. Marshal MacKay and doctor Lacey are playing chess inside the store. Jack Wright makes his daily deposit at the bank and then returns to the store. The Dennis gang arrives and robs the bank, killing a teller and the alerted marshal. In the street, storekeeper Jack Wright picks the dead marshal's gun up and shoots fleeing robber Alvin Dennis, from a great distance. Townsman George Henderson finishes Alvin off with a shotgun. The bandit drops the loot and the bank recovers it. The townsfolk proclaim Jack Wright and George Henderson to be heroes. Storekeeper Jack ... Written by
Joel McCrea was originally cast as Jack Wright. See more »
[Bob Dennis is practicing aiming and firing his gun]
You're sure itchin' to use that thing again, ain't ya?
Never hurts to be ready.
You're always ready. Put it away.
You're nervous, huh?
Yeah, well, I wouldn't be if it wasn't for you.
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(Some Spoilers) Potent little morality play about a man who's left out in the cold and deserted by all those who he considered his friends after being hailed as a hero by those very same persons only days before.
The Dennis gang checking out the quite and peaceful little town of Plainview to pull off their next bank robbery get the surprise of their lives when the towns general store shopkeeper Jack Wright, Fred MacMurray, picks up the gun that Plainview's marshal, Harry Shannon,dropped after he was shot during the bank robbery and from some 70 to 100 yards away caught the gang's leader Alivn Dennis,John Pickart, with a slug right between the shoulder blades. Still alive Dennis is done in by local resident George Henderson, Jack Ferguson, who then finished the badly wounded bank robber off with a wild furry of shots from his rifle. Being looked upon as a hero at first the people of Plainview quickly changed their minds about Jack Wright when the Dennis gang, now lead by Alvin's younger brother Bob (Skip Homeier),let it be known that they were out to take revenge for Alvin Dennis' death.
Ambushing Henderson, who was made the new towns marshal, and gunning him down the gang later shot young Wally, James O'Hara,Jack's brother-in-law as he answered the door one evening mistaking them for Jack. The townspeople in a panic with the fear of the Dennis gang using them and their families as target practice, until they finally kill Jack, come to the conclusion in an almost unanimous vote, only old Doc Lacy(Walter Brenner) didn't vote with them,that Jack should leave town for his own safety as well as theirs.
Tense and heart-lifting, if not predictable, ending with Jack standing alone and with no one coming to his aid facing the Dennis gang at high-noon on the main street of Plainview. Fred MaMurray is perfect as the peaceful family man who's forced to risk his life against a ruthless gang of bank robbers with nothing more then a sense of justice and determination not to let himself be run out of the town that he was born raised a family and started a business in.
Just before the exciting conclusion of the movie Jack confronted the people of Plesentvile and with an emotional and stirring speech made them look deep into their hearts and souls about their abandonment of him when he needed them most when he was always there for them whenever they needed his help. You just knew what would happen in the movie "At Gunpoint" after that.
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