Thunder over the Plains (1953)

82 mins | Western | 12 December 1953

Director:

Andre DeToth

Writer:

Russell Hughes

Producer:

David Weisbart

Cinematographer:

Bert Glennon

Editor:

James Moore

Production Designer:

Stanley Fleischer

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

Working titles of the film were Come On, Texas and Raids of the Southwest . The story opens with voice-over narration describing the condition of Texas after the Civil War. According to a Jul 1952 HR news item, production of the film was delayed due to a fire on the Warner Bros. studio lot on 9 Jul 1952, which resulted in the destruction of many outdoor sets. Although his appearance in the film has not been confirmed, a Sep 1952 HR news item adds Richard Lightner to the cast. Portions of the film were shot at the Warner Bros. ranch in Calabasas, CA, according to a Sep 1952 HR news ... More Less

Working titles of the film were Come On, Texas and Raids of the Southwest . The story opens with voice-over narration describing the condition of Texas after the Civil War. According to a Jul 1952 HR news item, production of the film was delayed due to a fire on the Warner Bros. studio lot on 9 Jul 1952, which resulted in the destruction of many outdoor sets. Although his appearance in the film has not been confirmed, a Sep 1952 HR news item adds Richard Lightner to the cast. Portions of the film were shot at the Warner Bros. ranch in Calabasas, CA, according to a Sep 1952 HR news item. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 Nov 1953.
---
Daily Variety
5 Nov 53
p. 3.
Film Daily
3 Dec 53
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 52
p. 1, 6.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Aug 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 52
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 52
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 52
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 52
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 52
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 53
p. 5.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
7 Nov 53
p. 2061.
New York Times
10 Dec 53
p. 64.
Variety
11 Nov 53
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
STAND INS
Lex Barker's stand-in
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Come On, Texas
Raids of the Southwest
Release Date:
12 December 1953
Production Date:
18 Aug--late Sep 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 December 1954
Copyright Number:
LP4333
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
WarnerColor
Duration(in mins):
82
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16086
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1869, the war-impoverished people of Texas are being swindled by carpetbaggers from the North, and a member of the U.S. Army of Occupation sent to keep the peace, Capt. David Porter, who was reared in Texas, has been assigned to police a cotton auction. H. I. Standish, a corrupt tax assessor, has raised the farmers' taxes impossibly high and caused foreclosures. Despite the townspeople's suspicion and coldness toward him and his wife Norah, Porter feels that he should remain stationed there, so that his position is not filled by someone unsympathetic to the Texans' plight. Although his sympathies lie with the angry farmers, Porter carries out his duties, but then refuses to escort Standish and Balfour, the buyer with whom Standish is in cahoots, to deliver the cotton. On the way to the railhead, where the cotton is to be shipped north, Balfour's wagon train is raided by Ben Westman and his gang of outlaw Texans, who are fighting the unjust system. After burning the cotton, which Balfour bought at a rock-bottom price, the gang forces Standish and Balfour to return to town, shoeless and in their underwear. After they complain to Porter's superior officer, Lt. Col. Chandler, Porter is held responsible for his inability to stop Westman's recurring attacks. Later, for reward money offered by Balfour, a townsman, Henley, reveals Westman's hideout, and Porter is sent to arrest the gang with Capt. Bill Hodges, a cocky, trigger-happy, West Point officer who has been recently assigned to Texas with Army reinforcements. When Hodges preempts Porter's orders by attacking before the rest of the soldiers are in place, one man is unnecessarily killed and the rest of the ... +


In 1869, the war-impoverished people of Texas are being swindled by carpetbaggers from the North, and a member of the U.S. Army of Occupation sent to keep the peace, Capt. David Porter, who was reared in Texas, has been assigned to police a cotton auction. H. I. Standish, a corrupt tax assessor, has raised the farmers' taxes impossibly high and caused foreclosures. Despite the townspeople's suspicion and coldness toward him and his wife Norah, Porter feels that he should remain stationed there, so that his position is not filled by someone unsympathetic to the Texans' plight. Although his sympathies lie with the angry farmers, Porter carries out his duties, but then refuses to escort Standish and Balfour, the buyer with whom Standish is in cahoots, to deliver the cotton. On the way to the railhead, where the cotton is to be shipped north, Balfour's wagon train is raided by Ben Westman and his gang of outlaw Texans, who are fighting the unjust system. After burning the cotton, which Balfour bought at a rock-bottom price, the gang forces Standish and Balfour to return to town, shoeless and in their underwear. After they complain to Porter's superior officer, Lt. Col. Chandler, Porter is held responsible for his inability to stop Westman's recurring attacks. Later, for reward money offered by Balfour, a townsman, Henley, reveals Westman's hideout, and Porter is sent to arrest the gang with Capt. Bill Hodges, a cocky, trigger-happy, West Point officer who has been recently assigned to Texas with Army reinforcements. When Hodges preempts Porter's orders by attacking before the rest of the soldiers are in place, one man is unnecessarily killed and the rest of the gang escapes. Back at the fort, Hodges strikes up a friendship with Norah, who is homesick for the friends and civilization she left in the East, but then tries to force himself on her. Porter comes home in time to rescue Norah, but the men's professional relationship is now completely severed. Meanwhile, Henley, fearing Westman's retaliation, wants to get out of town and tries to collect the reward money from Balfour. Balfour kills Henley as Standish watches, then gets Westman blamed for the murder. Although Porter tries to make Chandler see that recent events are more complicated than they seem, Chandler orders him to bring in Westman. Using a cotton shipment as bait, Porter lures Westman into a trap and forces his surrender, but guessing that Westman did not commit murder, promises him a fair trial. However, Chandler has received orders from headquarters to hang Westman immediately under martial law. Porter begs for time to prove Westman's innocence. When Westman's men take Standish as hostage in exchange for Westman's release, Chandler moves up the time of the hanging, pending the return of Standish. Believing that Standish knows the truth about Henley's death, Porter sneaks out to talk to him and the gang, but his exit from town dressed as a civilian is seen and reported to Chandler by Balfour's men. Believing that Porter is in league with the gang, Chandler sends Hodges with some other soldiers to arrest them all. In the attack, Standish is killed after telling Porter about a written confession he left in his office, and Porter and Westman's men are captured. However, many of them, including Porter, manage to escape the soldiers, with the help of men in town. Porter sneaks to Standish's office and after he finds the papers clearing Westman of murder, Balfour and his henchmen show up. Porter is wounded in the ensuing fight, but shoots Balfour and his men, and manages to get to the hanging with the confession in time to save Westman. During the following months, the Army is pulled out of Texas and the government returned to the Texans. A year later, Texas is re-admitted into the Union, and Westman and his men are pardoned. +

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.