Kansan The (1943)
Directed by George Archainbaud with a screenplay by Harold Shumate that was based on a novel by Frank Gruber this action packed B Western features Richard Dix in the title role as John Bonniwell. The film’s Score was nominated for an Academy Award (Gerard Carbonara’s only Oscar nominations). The cast also includes Jane Wyatt Albert Dekker Eugene Pallette Victor Jory and Robert Armstrong (among others) in significant roles. Beryl Wallace plays a saloon singer; Byron Foulger appears uncredited as a wronged rancher.
Bonniwell (Dix) is a stranger in the town of Broken Lance who single handedly stops a bank robbery by Jesse James et al with his dead on aim and six shooter. While recovering from injuries suffered in the gun battle with help from hotelier Eleanor Sager (Wyatt) Bonniwell is elected marshal on the recommendation of the town’s banker Steve Barat (Dekker). But Bonniwell soon learns that Barat also owns most of the town and its surrounding lands and is taking advantage of his monopoly position to exact excessive profits. Though he initially declines the lawman position he accepts because of his attraction to Eleanor even though she is nearly engaged to Barat’s gambler brother Jeff (Jory). Hobart Cavanaugh plays one of Barat’s cronies the mayor. Willie Best plays Bones the always frightened bellboy at Eleanor’s hotel. Jeff shows Bonniwell around town and demonstrates his independence from his brother’s crooked ways.
When Bonniwell learns that Barat plans to charge $1/head toll to some Texas rancher friends of his to allow their cattle through town he helps these friends – Tom Waggoner (Pallette) and Malachy (Armstrong) – organize a stampede to run the gate. This gives Bonniwell an opportunity to stand up against Barat and start to earn the respect and loyalty of others in the community. A couple of Bonniwell’s old friends outlaws Gil Hatton (Francis McDonald) and Ben Nash (Douglas Fowley) learn about Broken Lance’s new marshal and figure it’ll be easy pickings for them. They soon learn otherwise: a large saloon barroom brawl ensues that includes men jumping off balconies swinging from chandeliers breaking the mirrors behind the bars etc.. However Barat sees that Hatton-Nash and their gang are released on $20000 bail the judge is in his pocket too because he plans to use the outlaws to run Bonniwell off.
Jeff needs money from his brother and is briefly involved in a robbery that serves to test his honesty with Bonniwell and his relationship with Eleanor who’s obviously destined to end up with the marshal. Later however Jeff warns Bonniwell of his brother’s plans to kill him by using Hatton & Nash which leads to a bridge (Clem Bevans plays the tollman) being blown up killing Jeff and a climactic shootout in the streets of Broken Lance with the rest of the town allied with Bonniwell against Barat and the outlaws. Guess who wins.