Hellfire (1949)

90 mins | Western | 26 June 1949

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HISTORY

Onscreen credit for the McGowan brothers reads: "Written by Executive Producers Dorrell and Stewart McGowan." A DV news item notes that on 10 Aug 1949 a federal lawsuit was brought by Elliott-McGowan Productions against Republic Pictures for failing to use its best efforts in distributing the film, refusing to permit an inspection of its books and records on transactions involving the film, and violating its 1948 agreement with Elliott-McGowan. The disposition of the lawsuit is unknown. Modern sources include Roy Barcroft in the ... More Less

Onscreen credit for the McGowan brothers reads: "Written by Executive Producers Dorrell and Stewart McGowan." A DV news item notes that on 10 Aug 1949 a federal lawsuit was brought by Elliott-McGowan Productions against Republic Pictures for failing to use its best efforts in distributing the film, refusing to permit an inspection of its books and records on transactions involving the film, and violating its 1948 agreement with Elliott-McGowan. The disposition of the lawsuit is unknown. Modern sources include Roy Barcroft in the cast. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Jun 1949.
---
Daily Variety
2 Jun 49
p. 3.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 49
p. 6.
Film Daily
2 Jun 49
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 48
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 48
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 49
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
11 Jun 49
p. 4641.
New York Times
30 May 49
p. 9.
Variety
1 Jun 49
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Trucolor color consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"Bringing in the Sheaves," music and lyrics by Knowles Shaw and George A. Minor
"Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me," music and lyrics by Billy Reeves and Frank Campbell, arrangement by Sol Meyer.
DETAILS
Release Date:
26 June 1949
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 28 May 1949
Production Date:
6 December--late December 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Republic Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
15 June 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2359
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
Trucolor
Duration(in mins):
90
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13597
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

When tough gambler Zeb Smith is caught cheating a man at poker, the man pulls his gun, but before he fires, itinerant preacher Brother Joseph steps in front of Zeb and is shot. Zeb flees the saloon with Brother Joseph, and as he lays dying, the preacher tells Zeb that he regrets not having built a church for the townspeople. Guilt-ridden, Zeb promises Brother Joseph that he will build the church and agrees to the preacher's stipulation that it be done "according to the rules" of the Bible. Sometime later, Zeb arrives in the town of Dry Springs and, after reading aloud from Brother Joseph's Bible, asks some poker players to donate to his church fund. The men refuse and denounce Zeb. Later, as Zeb looks on, Doll Brown murders her husband, Lew Stoner, outside the saloon. She leaves town before Lew's brothers, Gyp, Red, and Dusty, learn of Lew's death and vow revenge. When Marshal Bucky McLean, an old friend of Zeb, rides into town looking for Doll and explains that a $5,000 reward has been offered for her capture, Zeb takes off. Although Zeb eventually gets the drop on Doll, he decides that he would rather obtain the reward money by persuading her to surrender rather than capturing her. Doll, who reacts hostily toward Zeb's religious talk, rejects his request to accompany her, but finally relents. Before they leave, however, Doll knocks Zeb unconscious and is about to ride off alone when the Stoner brothers show up and hold her at gunpoint. A revived Zeb distracts the brothers, then throws some burning campfire embers into their faces and grabs their guns. After ... +


When tough gambler Zeb Smith is caught cheating a man at poker, the man pulls his gun, but before he fires, itinerant preacher Brother Joseph steps in front of Zeb and is shot. Zeb flees the saloon with Brother Joseph, and as he lays dying, the preacher tells Zeb that he regrets not having built a church for the townspeople. Guilt-ridden, Zeb promises Brother Joseph that he will build the church and agrees to the preacher's stipulation that it be done "according to the rules" of the Bible. Sometime later, Zeb arrives in the town of Dry Springs and, after reading aloud from Brother Joseph's Bible, asks some poker players to donate to his church fund. The men refuse and denounce Zeb. Later, as Zeb looks on, Doll Brown murders her husband, Lew Stoner, outside the saloon. She leaves town before Lew's brothers, Gyp, Red, and Dusty, learn of Lew's death and vow revenge. When Marshal Bucky McLean, an old friend of Zeb, rides into town looking for Doll and explains that a $5,000 reward has been offered for her capture, Zeb takes off. Although Zeb eventually gets the drop on Doll, he decides that he would rather obtain the reward money by persuading her to surrender rather than capturing her. Doll, who reacts hostily toward Zeb's religious talk, rejects his request to accompany her, but finally relents. Before they leave, however, Doll knocks Zeb unconscious and is about to ride off alone when the Stoner brothers show up and hold her at gunpoint. A revived Zeb distracts the brothers, then throws some burning campfire embers into their faces and grabs their guns. After sending the brothers on their way, Doll and Zeb travel together to Cheyenne, where Doll has been told she might find Jane Carson, a young woman she has been trying to locate. Doll inquires about Jane at the Can Can Saloon, and after extracting a vow of secrecy from Zeb, explains that Jane is her younger sister and that Lew sent her away many years before. Doll also reveals that she eventually left Lew to find Jane, changed her name from Mary Carson to Doll Brown, and became an outlaw. Although reuniting with Jane is Doll's obsession, she is relieved when the rough-talking saloon girl whom she suspected of being her sister turns out not to be. Just then, Sheriff Duffy enters the Can Can and attempts to arrest Doll and detain her until Bucky arrives, but Doll and Zeb manage to escape. Doll and Zeb flee town pursued by Duffy and Bucky. The two fugitives elude capture by riding into a dense fog, and later, Doll, hungry and penniless, plots to rob a passing stagecoach. Zeb prepares to join Doll in the holdup, but she changes her mind at the last minute and instead goes with Zeb to a nearby deserted cabin. As Doll prepares some food inside, Zeb sees Bucky riding up and intercepts him. Bucky confesses to Zeb that Jane is his wife and that he is planning to kill Doll in order to spare Jane the humiliation of learning that her long-lost sister is a notorious outlaw. Zeb tries to discourage his friend from his mission, but promises he will not reveal Bucky's secret. Zeb then tries to prevent Bucky from entering the cabin, causing Bucky to become suspicious. As he is about to force his way inside, Doll comes out wearing a dress. Never having seen Doll in a dress, Bucky does not recognize her, and she introduces herself as Julie Gaye. After Bucky leaves for Ogallala, Doll admits to Zeb that she is attracted to him and kisses him. When Zeb, fighting his own passion, tells her that the only way she can be reunited with Jane is to turn herself in, however, she angrily rejects him. Deducing that Bucky knows where her sister is, Doll announces that she is going to seduce him and heads for Ogallala. There, Doll, still calling herself Julie, takes the hotel room next to Bucky's, arousing the marshal's suspicion. At Bucky's behest, Sheriff Duffy comes to town, but he is unable to identify Doll or Zeb, who has been soliciting money for his church. Weeks later, Zeb cautions Bucky about becoming too involved with Doll, who is now a saloon singer, but the marshal dismisses his concerns. Zeb then begs Doll to leave town with him, declaring that he no longer cares about building his church. She refuses and forces him to realize that he is still committed to his faith. Soon after, the Stoner brothers find Zeb, and when he refuses to tell them where Doll is, begin to torture him. Sheriff Duffy stops the attack, then deputizes Zeb. At Bucky's hotel room, Zeb arrests Doll in front of a surprised Bucky. When word comes that the Stoner brothers have been tipped off that she is in jail, Zeb gives her his gun and opens her cell. Instead of fleeing with Zeb, Doll tricks him and locks him up. Before she can get away, however, Bucky enters and, although Zeb tries to intervene, Doll shoots Bucky in the neck. After Zeb finally tells Doll that Bucky is Jane's husband and goes for a doctor, a remorse-filled Doll vows to Bucky that she will never see Jane. As Doll then reads aloud from Zeb's Bible, the Twenty-third Psalm, the Stoner brothers burst in and shoot her twice. Gyp is about to fire a point-blank shot into her when Zeb returns with the doctor and shoots all three brothers. After the doctor assures Bucky that he will recover, Zeb and the wounded Doll embrace and together utter the final line of the Psalm: "And we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." +

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.