Bandit Ranger (1942)
Cattle rustling is a problem affecting a small town in the old West. A ranger is sent to clean things up but he is killed on his way to the town. Tim Holt (the “man in black” who is actually the good guy) shows up just after the ranger is shot. He learns the man’s name Frank Mattison and is asked by him to give his stenciled money belt to his sister (Joan Barclay) who will be arriving soon on the stagecoach. Holt then takes the dead man’s body into town where he witnesses Martin (popular Western stock actor LeRoy Mason) claiming to be Mattison. Martin actually works for Frank Curtis (another popular stock actor) the cattle rustler’s leader. Holt decides to keep quiet to uncover the rustling scheme and leaves the money belt with someone at the bank.
When Curtis learns of Mattison’s sister coming to town he decides to have his men cause the stagecoach to have an accident. But Holt who had already anticipated something like this knowing that she could identify Martin as a fake assembles his men and rescues the runaway stagecoach. They then stow her at Holt’s ranch. However when Holt returns to town Martin and Curtis confront him and accuse him of killing the real Mattison. Martin claims that he was posing as Mattison because he was his partner sent in incognito in advance to catch the rustlers. They take Holt to the bank to prove their accusation and when the money belt stenciled with Mattison’s name is presented they convince even some of Holt’s allies of his guilt. But Holt escapes with help from his goofy singing sidekick Ike (Cliff Edwards the uncredited voice of Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio (1940)) and hatches a plan to clear his name.
*** SPOILERS ***
Mattison’s sister is “convinced” that Holt killed her brother. However with a telegram from the Marshall’s office that only Mattison was sent in and not another man (e.g. Martin) undercover as well Holt proves his innocence to her winning her assistance. Holt then discovers the rustlers secret hideout (where the cattle are) and using the same telegram convinces his former townsfolk allies to help capture Martin and Curtis’ gang. There is a spectacular shootout with several fight sequences which conclude the story though Ike gets a new suit (had sent a previous telegram to order) and falls in mud to end the film with a gag.