Slaughter Trail (1951)

77 mins | Western | October 1951

Director:

Irving Allen

Writer:

Sid Kuller

Producer:

Irving Allen

Cinematographer:

Jack Greenhalgh

Production Designer:

George Van Marter

Production Company:

Justal Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to an undated credit sheet submitted to the PCA, contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, this independent production was to be "An Eagle-Lion Classics Release," presented by Joseph Justman. The PCA file also indicates that a completed version of the picture, starring Howard Da Silva as "Capt. Dempster," was submitted to the PCA in Apr 1951. When the film was acquired for release by RKO early in May 1951, the studio, then run by Howard Hughes, announced that, due to Da Silva having testified as an unfriendly witness before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, his scenes would be reshot with Brian Donlevy in his role.
       Some scenes were filmed on location at the Ray Corrigan Ranch in Simi Valley, CA. Although Fred Allen is credited onscreen as editor, HR production charts list Joe Gluck as editor. According to the DV review, footage from Irving Allen's earlier film New Mexico was reused in Slaughter Trail . Much of the film is accompanied by songs from folk singer Terry Gilkyson and a male chorus. One song, heard only briefly in the film, "The Girl in the Wood," became a hit recording for Frankie ... More Less

According to an undated credit sheet submitted to the PCA, contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, this independent production was to be "An Eagle-Lion Classics Release," presented by Joseph Justman. The PCA file also indicates that a completed version of the picture, starring Howard Da Silva as "Capt. Dempster," was submitted to the PCA in Apr 1951. When the film was acquired for release by RKO early in May 1951, the studio, then run by Howard Hughes, announced that, due to Da Silva having testified as an unfriendly witness before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, his scenes would be reshot with Brian Donlevy in his role.
       Some scenes were filmed on location at the Ray Corrigan Ranch in Simi Valley, CA. Although Fred Allen is credited onscreen as editor, HR production charts list Joe Gluck as editor. According to the DV review, footage from Irving Allen's earlier film New Mexico was reused in Slaughter Trail . Much of the film is accompanied by songs from folk singer Terry Gilkyson and a male chorus. One song, heard only briefly in the film, "The Girl in the Wood," became a hit recording for Frankie Laine. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 May 1951.
---
Daily Variety
11 Oct 51
p. 3
Harrison's Reports
13 Oct 51
p. 162.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 51
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 51
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 51
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 51
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Oct 1951.
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
5 May 1951.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Oct 1951.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Oct 1951.
---
The Exhibitor
24 Oct 51
p. 3174.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir on retakes
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Dance dir
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Welfare worker
STAND INS
Stunts
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
Col consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"Hoofbeat Serenade" and "Ballad Bandelier," words and music by Lynn Murray and Sid Kuller
"The Girl in the Wood," words and music by Terry Gilkyson and Neal Stuart
"Everyone's Crazy 'Ceptin Me," words and music by Terry Gilkyson and Sid Kuller
+
SONGS
"Hoofbeat Serenade" and "Ballad Bandelier," words and music by Lynn Murray and Sid Kuller
"The Girl in the Wood," words and music by Terry Gilkyson and Neal Stuart
"Everyone's Crazy 'Ceptin Me," words and music by Terry Gilkyson and Sid Kuller
"Jittery Deer-Foot Dan," words and music by Terry Gilkyson
"I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground," traditional.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
October 1951
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 11 October 1951
Production Date:
late-January--mid February 1951
1 June--7 June 1951 at Motion Picture Center Studios
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
10 October 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1421
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
Cinecolor
Duration(in mins):
77
Length(in feet):
6,895
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15273
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1882, a San Francisco-bound stagecoach, carrying mail down the "Slaughter Trail" through New Mexico, is held up by three masked bandits, who kill the guard. Vaughn, the bandits' leader, takes jewels from a package in the mail sack and hands them to his accomplice, Lorabelle Larkin, who has been posing as a passenger. During their escape, Vaughn and cohorts Heath and Levering steal fresh horses from some Navajo Indians, whom they kill, save for one, who escapes, wounded. When the stage arrives at Fort Marcy, Captain Dempster, the commanding officer, informs Lorabelle that he is delaying the stage's onward journey until the guard can be replaced. Dempster, suspecting that the Vaughn gang may be responsible for the holdup, assigns Lt. Morgan to bring them in. Lorabelle persuades Dempster to allow the stage to proceed by telling him that her grandmother is dying in San Francisco. Meanwhile, the wounded Navajo reports the attack to Chief Paako, who declares war and attacks the stagecoach. However, Morgan and his troops come to the rescue and all return to the fort. Dempster is surprised by the Indians' attack as he and Paako have been friends for a long time. In an attempt to get away from the fort, Lorabelle strikes up a friendship with Dempster's young daughter Nancy. Morgan and Dempster ride out to meet Paako, who tells them that white men have killed his brothers and that because their treaty has been broken, he will seek revenge. Anxious to maintain peace, Dempster promises Paako that he will catch the culprits, and Paako gives him two days to do so. In the meantime, Vaughn, posing as a cattleman, returns to the ... +


In 1882, a San Francisco-bound stagecoach, carrying mail down the "Slaughter Trail" through New Mexico, is held up by three masked bandits, who kill the guard. Vaughn, the bandits' leader, takes jewels from a package in the mail sack and hands them to his accomplice, Lorabelle Larkin, who has been posing as a passenger. During their escape, Vaughn and cohorts Heath and Levering steal fresh horses from some Navajo Indians, whom they kill, save for one, who escapes, wounded. When the stage arrives at Fort Marcy, Captain Dempster, the commanding officer, informs Lorabelle that he is delaying the stage's onward journey until the guard can be replaced. Dempster, suspecting that the Vaughn gang may be responsible for the holdup, assigns Lt. Morgan to bring them in. Lorabelle persuades Dempster to allow the stage to proceed by telling him that her grandmother is dying in San Francisco. Meanwhile, the wounded Navajo reports the attack to Chief Paako, who declares war and attacks the stagecoach. However, Morgan and his troops come to the rescue and all return to the fort. Dempster is surprised by the Indians' attack as he and Paako have been friends for a long time. In an attempt to get away from the fort, Lorabelle strikes up a friendship with Dempster's young daughter Nancy. Morgan and Dempster ride out to meet Paako, who tells them that white men have killed his brothers and that because their treaty has been broken, he will seek revenge. Anxious to maintain peace, Dempster promises Paako that he will catch the culprits, and Paako gives him two days to do so. In the meantime, Vaughn, posing as a cattleman, returns to the fort to rescue Lorabelle. Dempster informs Vaughn that all civilians are confined to the fort due to the uprising. After Vaughn tells Lorabelle that they will sneak away at night, Lorabelle apologizes to Dempster for her behavior, and he thanks her for being kind to his daughter, whose mother was killed during the last Navajo war. Dempster tells Lorabelle that he can only appease Paako by handing over the three outlaws, but that he could not do that even if they were proven guilty by a federal court. At the regular Saturday night social, a traveling companion of Lorabelle recognizes Vaughn's laugh from the stagecoach robbery and informs Dempster. As Lorabelle participates in a vigorous square dance, the small bag of jewels fall out of her dress. Vaughn takes it and, at gunpoint, makes Nancy his hostage and orders the fort gates to be opened. Lorabelle, however, refuses to go with him. Vaughn escapes, dropping Nancy off outside the fort, and meets up with Heath and Levering. However, they are seen by the Indian they wounded, and Paako attacks, forcing them to return to the fort, where they are then arrested. Paako comes to the fort under a flag of truce and demands that Dempster hand over Vaughn and his men within a few minutes. Dempster sends an Indian scout to another fort for reinforcements, but the scout is killed by the Navajo. Dempster then has three volunteer soldiers, along with the Vaughn gang, go outside the fort to create a perimeter of defense. When the Navajo attack, Lorabelle helps defend the children inside the fort. The Navajo kill Vaughn and his men and call off the attack. Lorabelle walks back into her cell and refuses to come out. When Dempster visits her, he finds Nancy there, and she asks her father not to send Lorabelle away. Dempster tells Lorabelle that she is free to go, and although a romance has started to blossom between them, she leaves. She is hopeful, however, that she may meet Dempster and Nancy again some day. +

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.