20 Mule Team (1940)

82 mins | Western | 3 May 1940

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HISTORY

According to news items in HR , Bruce Cabot was originally slated for the role of "Stag Roper." HR news items also note that this picture was shot on location in Death Valley, CA and Las Vegas, NV. The film marked Anne Baxter's film debut. Reviews note that the preview prints of the picture were processed in ... More Less

According to news items in HR , Bruce Cabot was originally slated for the role of "Stag Roper." HR news items also note that this picture was shot on location in Death Valley, CA and Las Vegas, NV. The film marked Anne Baxter's film debut. Reviews note that the preview prints of the picture were processed in sepia. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Apr 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
30 Apr 40
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 40
p. 4, 8
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 40
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 40
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
30 Apr 40
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
13 Apr 40
p. 46.
Motion Picture Herald
4 May 40
p. 41.
New York Times
10 May 40
p. 26.
Variety
1 May 40
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Women's cost
Men's cost
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod asst
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 May 1940
Production Date:
began mid February 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
30 April 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9631
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
82
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6208
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In turn-of-the-century Death Valley, twenty mule teams hauled borax across the inferno of the desert floor. As the borax deposits dwindle, the Desert Borax Company faces bankruptcy and is unable to pay Skinner Bill Bragg and the other drivers their wages. Unable to pay his rent, Bill is locked out of his room at the Furnace Flat saloon by the proprietor, Josie Johnson. Josie's pretty young daughter Jean feels stifled by life in Furnace Flat, and although she is courted by Mitch, a clerk at the borax company, she longs for the romance of the city. Josie's prayers are answered with the arrival of Stag Roper, a slick city dude who persuades the bank president to extend the borax company's note in hopes of discovering a mother load of the mineral. When Stag discovers that Bill has found a bag full of borax crystals on the dehydrated body of Chuckwalla, a prospector who perished in the desert, he blackmails Bill, who is wanted for murder under the name of Ambrose Murphy. Fearful that Stag will expose him, Bill agrees to search for Chuckwalla's claim. The next day, Bill and his swamper, Piute Pete, follow Chuckwalla's trail to the claim and are met by gunfire from Mitch, the prospector's partner. After wounding Mitch, Bill returns to town and tells Stag of Mitch's resistance. Meanwhile, Josie discovers that Jean is planning to elope with Stag, and after locking her daughter in her room, Josie orders Stag at gunpoint to get out of town. In response, Stag shoots Josie and rides off with his partner, Salters, to steal Mitch's claim. Blaming himself for Josie's shooting, Bill ... +


In turn-of-the-century Death Valley, twenty mule teams hauled borax across the inferno of the desert floor. As the borax deposits dwindle, the Desert Borax Company faces bankruptcy and is unable to pay Skinner Bill Bragg and the other drivers their wages. Unable to pay his rent, Bill is locked out of his room at the Furnace Flat saloon by the proprietor, Josie Johnson. Josie's pretty young daughter Jean feels stifled by life in Furnace Flat, and although she is courted by Mitch, a clerk at the borax company, she longs for the romance of the city. Josie's prayers are answered with the arrival of Stag Roper, a slick city dude who persuades the bank president to extend the borax company's note in hopes of discovering a mother load of the mineral. When Stag discovers that Bill has found a bag full of borax crystals on the dehydrated body of Chuckwalla, a prospector who perished in the desert, he blackmails Bill, who is wanted for murder under the name of Ambrose Murphy. Fearful that Stag will expose him, Bill agrees to search for Chuckwalla's claim. The next day, Bill and his swamper, Piute Pete, follow Chuckwalla's trail to the claim and are met by gunfire from Mitch, the prospector's partner. After wounding Mitch, Bill returns to town and tells Stag of Mitch's resistance. Meanwhile, Josie discovers that Jean is planning to elope with Stag, and after locking her daughter in her room, Josie orders Stag at gunpoint to get out of town. In response, Stag shoots Josie and rides off with his partner, Salters, to steal Mitch's claim. Blaming himself for Josie's shooting, Bill recruits Pete and pursues Stag into the desert, where he finds Mitch unconscious, left to die by Stag. After a shootout in which the horses and Pete are killed, Bill exacts his revenge on Stag and then sends Mitch back to town on his mule, Buttercup, risking his own life by remaining behind on the fiery desert floor. Sometime later, Mitch is appointed vice president of the borax company and leaves for Los Angeles with his bride Josie, while Bill, now recovered, learns that he has been granted amnesty. +

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.