Laying on the Missouri-Arkansas border, the neutral Border City, its female mayor and city council take no side in the ongoing Civil War and they're prepared to hang any troublemaker, Yankee or Confederate, who stirs the townsfolk up.
During the Civil War, Border City is a town laying on the Missouri-Arkansas border at the base of the Ozark mountains. Despite its closeness to the North-South conflict, Border City professes its neutrality and fiercely imposes an 8-mile limit to any belligerent army. Young Sally Maris is arriving into Border City, from the East Coast, on the stagecoach, at the request of her brother who runs a saloon and hotel in town. Upon approaching Border City, the stagecoach is stopped by a small Union Army patrol and passengers are checked out. The patrol commander offers to escort the stagecoach into town but on the way they are attacked by Quantrill's Raiders who kill the Union soldiers. The Raiders escort the stagecoach into town themselves. Among the Raiders are the James brothers, Charles Quantrill himself and Kate Quantrill, his wife. The town of Border City dislikes having these Raiders within the city limits and the mayor decides to send for the Union forces in order to rid Border City ...Written by
edited by Rob
On the Missouri-Arkansas border, a town has proclaimed neutrality in the Civil War. Under the rule of Mayor Nina Varela, they can get away with it, because she owns the lead mine and, as the opening narrator tells us us cheerfully, they hang anyone who violates it.... with a lynching going on as we begin.
Into this mix comes Joan Leslie, looking for her brother, Reed Hadley. He's immediately shot by John Lund, leaving Miss Leslie with a money-making saloon and lots of debts. Adding to this mess, come Quantrill's Raiders, led by Brian Donlevy, who's married to Audrey Totter, who was going to marry Hadley until Donlevy carried her away; now she's mean, and gunning for Miss Leslie, who's in love with Lund, because this is one of director Allan Dwan's movies, where symbolism carries the freight, and the dark/light twins at the center of this conflict are Miss Totter and Miss Leslie.
Miss Totter has a heck of a time, sauntering around in leather trousers with a sneer on her face, Brian Donlevy constantly putting her down. Miss Leslie is the good girl, unable to get a job as a schoolmarm, who turns readily to being, as she puts it, "a honky-tonk queen." The women running the town talk slightingly of men in a way that sounds photo-feminist, but with Union troops to the north and Southern troops to the south, and all the men in town the dregs of society -- who drink a lot but are very respectful of the women -- it's an uneasy equilibrium, a stasis that will last until the end of the War, Can Miss Varela hang enough people who threaten the situation to last until then?
When people talk about the weird symbolic westerns of the 1950s, they usually talk about JOHNNY GUITAR. This one is even crazier, because the people in this movie think they're sane.
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