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HISTORY

Voice-over narration, spoken by Walter Brennan as his character "'Doc' Butcher," is heard intermittently during the film. In Jul 1949, HR announced that Jack Gross would be producing Best of the Badmen and that Randolph Scott, who had appeared in the 1948 RKO "outlaw" picture Return of the Bad Men , would star. Although not a "prequel," the 1946 RKO release Badman's Territory was also set in the lawless town of Quinto and featured some of the same outlaw characters as Best of the Badmen (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). Scott and Robert Ryan co-starred in the 1946 film. According to HR news items, location shooting for Best of the Badmen took place in Kanab, UT. In late Jun 1950, HR announced that director William D. Russell was scouting locations in the southwestern part of Colorado, but it is not known whether any filming actually took place there.
       Some of the film's characters are loosely based on real people. For information about Quantrill's Raiders, see the entry for the 1940 Republic film Dark Command in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 . For information about the James brothers, see entry for the 1939 Twentieth-Century Fox film Jesse James in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 . For information about the Younger brothers, see entry for the 1941 Warner Bros. release Bad Men of Missouri in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ... More Less

Voice-over narration, spoken by Walter Brennan as his character "'Doc' Butcher," is heard intermittently during the film. In Jul 1949, HR announced that Jack Gross would be producing Best of the Badmen and that Randolph Scott, who had appeared in the 1948 RKO "outlaw" picture Return of the Bad Men , would star. Although not a "prequel," the 1946 RKO release Badman's Territory was also set in the lawless town of Quinto and featured some of the same outlaw characters as Best of the Badmen (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). Scott and Robert Ryan co-starred in the 1946 film. According to HR news items, location shooting for Best of the Badmen took place in Kanab, UT. In late Jun 1950, HR announced that director William D. Russell was scouting locations in the southwestern part of Colorado, but it is not known whether any filming actually took place there.
       Some of the film's characters are loosely based on real people. For information about Quantrill's Raiders, see the entry for the 1940 Republic film Dark Command in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 . For information about the James brothers, see entry for the 1939 Twentieth-Century Fox film Jesse James in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 . For information about the Younger brothers, see entry for the 1941 Warner Bros. release Bad Men of Missouri in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 . More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 May 1951.
---
Film Daily
3 May 51
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 50
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 50
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 50
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 50
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 51
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Jun 51
p. 869.
New York Times
10 Aug 51
p. 13.
Variety
2 May 51
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Sweetest Story Ever Told," or "Tell Me That You Love Me," words and music by R. M. Stults.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 June 1951
Production Date:
7 August--20 September 1950
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
9 June 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1057
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
83-84
Length(in feet):
7,531
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14739
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the conclusion of the Civil War, Jeff Clanton, an Army major from Missouri, persuades the last of the Confederacy's Quantrill's Raiders to give themselves up and pledge their allegiance to the Union. Many of the Raiders are infamous wanted men, including the Younger brothers, Jesse and Frank James, Curley Ringo and "Doc" Butcher, a veteran horse thief. Although Jeff promises that they will be paroled as long as records indicate they were on the Confederacy's payroll, Matthew Fowler, a carpetbagger who runs a powerful detective agency, determines to arrest them for the reward money. While Fowler and Joad, the sheriff of Breckenridge, the Missouri town in which the Raiders are being held, stir up sentiment against the outlaws, Jeff races to issue the allegiance pledge. Before they can say the pledge's last words, one of Fowler's deputies shoots and wounds Bob Younger, prompting Jeff to return fire. Jeff then completes the oath and frees the Raiders. Later, as he is about to return to his home, the now-civilian Jeff is arrested for murdering Fowler's deputy. Fowler claims that Jeff knew he had been mustered when he was issuing the oath and therefore shot his man as a civilian. Jeff is tried by a prejudiced court and sentenced to be hanged the following morning. While Jeff sits in jail that night, however, Fowler's estranged wife Lily pretends to be Jeff's rejected lover and, to spite her husband, distracts the jailer long enough to slip Jeff a gun. Jeff escapes but is pursued by a posse and shot in the leg. Joad eventually catches up to the wounded Jeff, but as he ... +


At the conclusion of the Civil War, Jeff Clanton, an Army major from Missouri, persuades the last of the Confederacy's Quantrill's Raiders to give themselves up and pledge their allegiance to the Union. Many of the Raiders are infamous wanted men, including the Younger brothers, Jesse and Frank James, Curley Ringo and "Doc" Butcher, a veteran horse thief. Although Jeff promises that they will be paroled as long as records indicate they were on the Confederacy's payroll, Matthew Fowler, a carpetbagger who runs a powerful detective agency, determines to arrest them for the reward money. While Fowler and Joad, the sheriff of Breckenridge, the Missouri town in which the Raiders are being held, stir up sentiment against the outlaws, Jeff races to issue the allegiance pledge. Before they can say the pledge's last words, one of Fowler's deputies shoots and wounds Bob Younger, prompting Jeff to return fire. Jeff then completes the oath and frees the Raiders. Later, as he is about to return to his home, the now-civilian Jeff is arrested for murdering Fowler's deputy. Fowler claims that Jeff knew he had been mustered when he was issuing the oath and therefore shot his man as a civilian. Jeff is tried by a prejudiced court and sentenced to be hanged the following morning. While Jeff sits in jail that night, however, Fowler's estranged wife Lily pretends to be Jeff's rejected lover and, to spite her husband, distracts the jailer long enough to slip Jeff a gun. Jeff escapes but is pursued by a posse and shot in the leg. Joad eventually catches up to the wounded Jeff, but as he is about to take Jeff prisoner, Doc and Bob surprise the lawman and free Jeff. Doc explains that because Fowler connived to have Jeff's allegiance oath declared illegal and the Raiders are now fugitives, they have all embraced a life of crime. Doc and Bob, who lost the use of his arm after being shot by Fowler's deputy, lead Jeff to Quinto, a town in an lawless area known as Badman's Territory. Jeff is surprised to discover Lily singing in the Quinto saloon, but promises to keep her identity a secret. Jeff, the Younger brothers, the James brothers, Doc and Ringo vow to destroy Fowler by robbing banks and other businesses that are protected by his detectives. As hoped, the raids overwhelm Fowler's operation, but Lily worries that Jeff, with whom she is in love, has become heartless. Jeff denies he has changed, insisting that he only wants to finish the job he started. When Cole Younger, the Raiders' leader, suggests that they blow up a gold-carrying train, Jeff proposes a less violent plan, then tells Lily that he will leave Quinto with her after the robbery. Later, Ringo, who like Bob is infatuated with Lily, becomes jealous when Bob gives her some jewelry and instigates a fight. Jeff and the others stop the brawl, but Ringo, who had eavesdropped on Lily's private conversation with Jeff, exposes her as Fowler's wife. Although Jeff defends Lily and forces Ringo out of Quinto, the other outlaws demand Lily's expulsion. To avoid trouble, Lily arranges to meet up with Jeff in three days, then accompanies him and the gang to the train depot. Unknown to the outlaws, a revenge-hungry Ringo has informed Fowler about Jeff's plan, so when Doc waves the train down, a horde of Fowler's men attack. Lily is wounded in the ensuing gunfight, but afterward, Cole accuses her of setting them up. Bob, Jeff, Lily and Doc flee in a wagon, and after eluding the gang, Bob hides out with Lily while Jeff and Doc steal a passing stagecoach. Before Jeff and Doc can pick up Lily, however, Ringo surprises Bob and delivers Lily to Fowler. Although Jeff, Bob and Doc know that Fowler will be lying in wait for them in Breckenridge, they determine to rescue Lily. That night, after robbing a trading post of guns and dynamite, Bob and Jeff slip into Breckenridge, while Doc waits with the stage on the edge of town. Bob shoots Ringo, then Jeff sneaks into Fowler's rooms, where Lily is being kept. After freeing Lily, Jeff fights with Fowler and manages to push the carpetbagger into the path of Joad's bullet. Doc, having heard the signal--three blasts of dynamite--then races into town to pick up Bob, Lily and Jeff, and the foursome escapes. Later, on the trail, Bob and Doc part ways with Lily and Jeff, who are looking forward to a new life together. +

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.