Lawless Empire (1945)

58 or 60 mins | Western | 15 November 1945

Director:

Vernon Keays

Producer:

Colbert Clark

Cinematographer:

George Meehan

Editor:

Paul Borofsky

Production Designer:

Charles Clague

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Taming of Helldorado . The film opens with the following written prologue: "In the building of the Old West, the homesteader was the constant target for powerful range racketeers. Fearing that progress would bring law and order to the end of their despotic reign, these men spread death and destruction among the settlers in an attempt to drive them out. Such a situation existed in 1870 near the town of Dusty Gulch." Modern sources add Ray Jones to the cast. For additional information on "The Durango Kid" series, please consult the Series Index and see the entry below for The Return of the Durango Kid ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Taming of Helldorado . The film opens with the following written prologue: "In the building of the Old West, the homesteader was the constant target for powerful range racketeers. Fearing that progress would bring law and order to the end of their despotic reign, these men spread death and destruction among the settlers in an attempt to drive them out. Such a situation existed in 1870 near the town of Dusty Gulch." Modern sources add Ray Jones to the cast. For additional information on "The Durango Kid" series, please consult the Series Index and see the entry below for The Return of the Durango Kid . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
15 Dec 1945.
---
Daily Variety
7 Dec 45
p. 3.
Film Daily
15 Feb 46
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 44
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 45
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Jul 45
p. 2543.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Dec 45
p. 2758.
Variety
13 Feb 46
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
SOUND
Sd eng
Mus mixer
PRODUCTION MISC
Research dir
SOURCES
SONGS
"Farther Along," words and music by Rev. W. B. Stevens
"Stay a Little Longer," words and music by Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan
"Dev'lish Mary," composers undetermined.
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Title:
The Taming of Helldorado
Release Date:
15 November 1945
Production Date:
5 October--16 October 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
15 November 1945
Copyright Number:
LP13673
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
58 or 60
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
10571
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When Reverend Tex Harding and his sister Vicky attempt to prevent a band of renegades from driving the Murphy family off their ranch, Duke Flinders, the leader of the gang, draws his gun. As he is about to shoot Tex, however, a masked rider known as The Durango Kid arrives to champion the rights of the homesteaders. After The Durango Kid orders Duke to lay down his gun and retreat, Vicky and Tex relate the miseries suffered by the settlers of Dusty Gulch under the lawless tyranny of Blaze Howard, the town boss. When The Durango Kid admonishes Tex to organize in opposition of Blaze, Tex describes the defeat felt by the frightened settlers. After leaving the Murphy ranch, The Durango Kid rides into the woods. Spotting the masked rider, Duke and his men follow, but the trail leads to a camp of cowhands overseen by Steve Random and Bob Wills. Unknown to Duke, Steve has just discarded the mask and black suit of The Durango Kid to join Bob and the boys. Upon returning to Dusty Gulch, Duke goes to the saloon to warn his boss, Blaze, of the danger posed by The Durango Kid. Cannonball, an employee at the saloon, overhears Blaze issue orders to kill The Durango Kid. Following The Durango Kid's advice, Tex puts a notice in the paper announcing a meeting of the homesteaders. Seeing the announcement, Bob and Steve ride to town to observe, and in the saloon, Steve meets Cannonball and Blaze. When Marty Foster, an adolescent boy, bursts into the saloon and accuses Blaze of killing his father, Duke slugs the kid, ... +


When Reverend Tex Harding and his sister Vicky attempt to prevent a band of renegades from driving the Murphy family off their ranch, Duke Flinders, the leader of the gang, draws his gun. As he is about to shoot Tex, however, a masked rider known as The Durango Kid arrives to champion the rights of the homesteaders. After The Durango Kid orders Duke to lay down his gun and retreat, Vicky and Tex relate the miseries suffered by the settlers of Dusty Gulch under the lawless tyranny of Blaze Howard, the town boss. When The Durango Kid admonishes Tex to organize in opposition of Blaze, Tex describes the defeat felt by the frightened settlers. After leaving the Murphy ranch, The Durango Kid rides into the woods. Spotting the masked rider, Duke and his men follow, but the trail leads to a camp of cowhands overseen by Steve Random and Bob Wills. Unknown to Duke, Steve has just discarded the mask and black suit of The Durango Kid to join Bob and the boys. Upon returning to Dusty Gulch, Duke goes to the saloon to warn his boss, Blaze, of the danger posed by The Durango Kid. Cannonball, an employee at the saloon, overhears Blaze issue orders to kill The Durango Kid. Following The Durango Kid's advice, Tex puts a notice in the paper announcing a meeting of the homesteaders. Seeing the announcement, Bob and Steve ride to town to observe, and in the saloon, Steve meets Cannonball and Blaze. When Marty Foster, an adolescent boy, bursts into the saloon and accuses Blaze of killing his father, Duke slugs the kid, causing Steve to enter the fray and defend him. Impressed by Steve's virtue, Tex offers him the job of town marshal, but Steve turns it down. Thinking that Steve is the man to dispose of The Durango Kid, Blaze hires him as the new marshal and offers him a lawman's badge from the collection worn by the town's deceased lawmen. Steve selects a gunbelt with the intitials "JR" inscribed on the holster. Later, when Cannonball recalls seeing the gun's owner, marshal Jimmy Ransom, shot in the back and killed, Steve confides that Jimmy was his brother and vows to complete his mission to establish law and order in Dusty Gulch. When Cannonball warns Steve that Blaze plans to disrupt the homesteaders' meeting, The Durango Kid appears just in time to apprehend Duke and his thugs. Heartened by The Durango Kid's courage, the homesteaders band together to deliver Duke and the others to the new marshal. Furious, Blaze demands that Steve release his men on bail. When Steve sets bail, Vicky accuses him of being in league with Blaze. After freeing Duke and the others, Steve tells Tex that he suspects that Blaze is not the sole mastermind of the gang and that he has released Duke in hopes that he will lead him to Blaze's confederate. Later, The Durango Kid bursts into Blaze's office and demands the money stolen from the homesteaders. With the proceeds, the settlers buy a new church and start to remodel it. When Doc Weston, the town physician, stops by to offer his support, one of the ranchers informs him that a cattle buyer is coming to town to purchase their herds. Doc immediately reports the news to Blaze, his partner in crime, and they plot to steal the cattle before the ranchers are able to round them up for sale. Outwitting the rustlers, The Durango Kid captures Duke and delivers him to Blaze. Duke declares his intentions to quit the gang and is killed by Doc. Deciding to investigate his brother's death, Steve visits the newspaper office. There, Sam Enders, the editor, confides that Blaze forced him to write that Doc made heroic efforts to save Jimmy's life when in reality, Jimmy was barely wounded when he entered the doctor's office. Blaze and Doc, meanwhile, suspect that Cannonball is leaking information to The Durango Kid and decide to set a trap for the masked bandit. Aware that Cannonball is listening outside, they loudly discuss their plan to kill Tex. When The Durango Kid arrives at Tex's house, he is met by Blaze and Doc, who at gunpoint, order him to drop his mask. Soon after, Tex, Cannonball and the settlers burst through the back door, sending Doc and Blaze fleeing out the front. Galloping into town, Doc and Blaze stampede the corraled cattle, thus creating a barrier to aid their escape. Braving the charging animals, Steve apprehends Doc and Blaze, thus completing his late brother's mission to bring law and order to Dusty Gulch. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.