Western Heritage (1948)
This B movie Tim Holt Western was one of two directed by Wallace Grissell the other (Wild Horse Mesa (1947)) also featured Nan Leslie and Jason Robards (Sr.) in supporting roles in addition to Holt’s typical sidekick Richard Martin as Chito; naturally it was written (as always) by Norman Houston. Holt plays Ross Daggert who’s girlfriend Beth Winston (Leslie) is both the niece of Judge Henry Winston (Robards) and the county recorder (e.g. of land claims).
Lois Andrews plays Tucson nightclub singer Cleo Raymond; she decides not to stay romantically involved with Joe Powell (Walter Reed) whom she suspects of wrongdoing. It turns out that Powell has forged a very old Spanish land grant document claiming ownership of the entire valley that includes Ross & Chito’s ranch just outside of San Carlos Arizona. But Powell’s partners-in-crime are hot on his trail and Ross ends up inadvertently helping the forger not once but twice. During the second time Powell is killed but not before passing the distinctive wallet carrying the document to Ross who is then accosted and left for dead by Arnold (Harry Woods) and his henchmen Trigg McCord (Tony Barrett) and Pike (Robert Bray). Naturally Chito saves him now and then again later.
Arnold then pretends to be Powell in order to file the claim with Beth; her uncle decides to investigate it further. Arnold’s pal Spade Thorne (Richard Powers aka Tom Keene) owns the local saloon so he’s able to sit in on the town’s meetings to learn what the Judge finds out. Meanwhile Arnold boldly begins to take control of the community: first he orders Trigg to kill Sheriff Claibourne (Perc Launders) when the lawman refuses to serve eviction notices pending the Judge’s return; then he and his henchman rustle cattle and burn several farms in the valley. Fortunately ‘Doc’ Stevens (Emmett Lynn uncredited) is able to elicit a deathbed confession from the Sheriff as to who’d shot him. Still the document is seemingly valid. Ross remembers Powell telling him about Cleo Raymond and sends the Judge by stagecoach to Tucson where he learns that Powell is a forger while he and Chito try to find Powell’s body. Fights chases on horseback and shootouts lead the story to it’s predictable conclusion in just more than 60 minutes time.