When transplanted Texan Bob Seton arrives in Lawrence, Kansas he finds much to like about the place, especially Mary McCloud, daughter of the local banker. Politics is in the air however. It’s just prior to the civil war and there is already a sharp division in the Territory as to whether it will remain slave-free. When he gets the opportunity to run for marshal, Seton finds himself running against the respected local schoolteacher, William Cantrell. Not is what it seems however. While acting as the upstanding citizen in public, Cantrell is dangerously ambitious and is prepared to do anything to make his mark, and his fortune, on the Territory. When he loses the race for marshal, he forms a group of raiders who run guns into the territory and rob and terrorize settlers throughout the territory. Eventually donning Confederate uniforms, it is left to Seton and the good citizens of Lawrence to face Cantrell and his raiders in one final clash.
John Wayne+Raoul Walsh+Republic=Great western
Few people did westerns better than John Wayne, few directors did them better than Raoul Walsh, and NO studio did them better than Republic–and when you put the three of them together, the results are pretty near unbeatable.
This film, based on the raid on Lawrence, Kansas, during the Civil War by the Confederate guerilla Quantrill, bears little relation to the actual event–but if you want a history lesson, turn on the Discovery Channel. Instead, just sit back and marvel at the rousing action sequences that Republic was renowned for, enjoy the sea of great old cowboy actors (Gabby Hayes, Harry Woods, Wally Wales, Trevor Bardette, Glenn Strange, etc.), check out the performance of a young Roy Rogers (he’s actually very good), and enjoy the talents of masters like Wayne and Walsh at their prime–and remember that this is the kind of movie people are talking about when they say, “They don’t make ’em like they used to.”