Star in the Dust (1956)

80 mins | Western | June 1956

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Law Man . According to a Feb 1955 LAEx news item, Universal originally bought the screen rights to the novel as a vehicle for Joel McCrea. A 25 Aug 1955 HR news item adds Rankin Mansfield to the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been ... More Less

The working title of this film was Law Man . According to a Feb 1955 LAEx news item, Universal originally bought the screen rights to the novel as a vehicle for Joel McCrea. A 25 Aug 1955 HR news item adds Rankin Mansfield to the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Apr 1956.
---
Daily Variety
18 Apr 56
p. 3.
Film Daily
3 May 56
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 1955.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 1955
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 1955
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 1955
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 1955.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 1955
p.11.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 56
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
2 Feb 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
12 May 56
p. 889.
Variety
18 Apr 56
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Law Man by Lee Leighton (New York, 1953).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Law Man
Release Date:
June 1956
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 2 May 1956
Production Date:
9 August--late August 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
14 February 1956
Copyright Number:
LP6239
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
up to 2:1
Duration(in mins):
80
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17683
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the late 1800s in the western town of Gunlock, Sheriff Bill Jordan tries to live up to the legacy of his father, tough lawman Tom Jordan, while remaining fully within the limits of the law. One day, gunslinger Sam Hall, who has murdered three farmers, is scheduled to be hanged at sundown. Bill faces opposition from the cattlemen’s association, who originally hired Hall and feel they must rescue him; the farmers, who fear that the ranchers will free Hall before sundown; and Nellie Mason, Hall’s girl friend. Bill suspects that George Ballard, local banker and head of the cattlemen’s association, hired Hall as a killer, but Bill must tread carefully in accusing him, since Ballard is the brother of Bill’s fiancée Ellen. Deputy Mike “Mac” MacNamara suggests hanging Hall immediately, but Bill insists on sticking to the legal agreement to hang him at sundown. When Nellie arrives to visit Hall in the jail, he secretly hands her unsigned letters from Ballard, one offering to hire Hall and another that agrees to spring him from jail if he keeps quiet. Hall instructs Nellie to inform Ballard that she will show the letters to Bill if Hall is hanged. At the same time, Bill visits schoolteacher Rigdon, the secret leader of the farmers, and accuses him of wanting to run the town. The two fight, and after Bill wins, he fines himself for disturbing the peace and sets off for the Ballards’. There, Ellen greets him happily despite his worries that she may soon have to take sides between her fiancé and her brother. Nellie arrives at the ranch soon after to tell Ballard about the letters, but after Ballard ... +


In the late 1800s in the western town of Gunlock, Sheriff Bill Jordan tries to live up to the legacy of his father, tough lawman Tom Jordan, while remaining fully within the limits of the law. One day, gunslinger Sam Hall, who has murdered three farmers, is scheduled to be hanged at sundown. Bill faces opposition from the cattlemen’s association, who originally hired Hall and feel they must rescue him; the farmers, who fear that the ranchers will free Hall before sundown; and Nellie Mason, Hall’s girl friend. Bill suspects that George Ballard, local banker and head of the cattlemen’s association, hired Hall as a killer, but Bill must tread carefully in accusing him, since Ballard is the brother of Bill’s fiancée Ellen. Deputy Mike “Mac” MacNamara suggests hanging Hall immediately, but Bill insists on sticking to the legal agreement to hang him at sundown. When Nellie arrives to visit Hall in the jail, he secretly hands her unsigned letters from Ballard, one offering to hire Hall and another that agrees to spring him from jail if he keeps quiet. Hall instructs Nellie to inform Ballard that she will show the letters to Bill if Hall is hanged. At the same time, Bill visits schoolteacher Rigdon, the secret leader of the farmers, and accuses him of wanting to run the town. The two fight, and after Bill wins, he fines himself for disturbing the peace and sets off for the Ballards’. There, Ellen greets him happily despite his worries that she may soon have to take sides between her fiancé and her brother. Nellie arrives at the ranch soon after to tell Ballard about the letters, but after Ballard denies any involvement and Ellen refuses to believe her, Nellie leaves. Ballard explains to Ellen that he was forced to hire Hall to scare the farmers, after Rigdon settled farmers on land south of the creek, immediately fenced off all the best range land and then began trying to take over the ranchers’ land north of the creek. He also informs his sister that the cattlemen plan to break Hall out within hours, and fearing for Bill’s safety, she agrees to distract him long enough for Ballard to get Hall out of jail peaceably. Ballard, however, goes to Nan Hogan, wife of rancher Lew and former victim of Hall’s aggression, and convinces her that Lew wrote the letters hiring Hall and will hang unless the prisoner is sprung. Unaware that Ballard actually wants Bill killed, Nan agrees to bring a gun to Hall. Meanwhile, no one in town will give Bill any information about the farmers’ or the ranchers’ plans, and Pastor Harris and Doc Quinn warn him that if he does not send for the National Guard, they will fire him. When Bill tries, however, he discovers that the telegraph line has been cut, and soon after, while Bill is arresting rancher Jess Ryman to keep him out of trouble, Nan and Nellie conspire to get Hall the gun. Ellen then calls Bill to the local hotel, giving Hall enough time to knock out Mac and the jailed Ryman to make his escape. When Bill returns to the jail, however, Orval Jones, an older man eager to become a deputy, has captured Hall, and the prisoner is locked up again. Across town, Nan learns that Nellie has the letters and, hoping to clear Lew’s name, fights her, seizes them and brings them to Bill. Although Nan, an ex-girl friend of Ballard’s, knows the handwriting is his, Bill advises her that her word alone is not enough. Nan then tips off Bill that Ellen was involved in Hall’s escape attempt, and believing that Ellen has chosen her brother over him, he denounces her. Informed that the farmers are headed to town to kill Hall, Bill meets them and reasons with them to allow the law to handle Hall’s punishment, and although the farmers agree, Rigdon promises to call for them if anything goes wrong during the hanging. Bill then confronts Ballard at the bank, swearing he will not rest until Ballard admits he wrote the letters. Bill knocks out Ballard, but then, realizing that the ranchers are approaching, races to guard the jail. A shootout ensues, during which Orval is shot, grasping his new badge as he dies. The ranchers begin to storm the jail, but are stopped by the arrival of the farmers, and another shootout rages. Meanwhile, Nan informs Ellen that Ballard wrote the letters, and although Ellen rushes to the bank to stop her brother, he knocks her out and climbs onto the roof with a rifle. Bill brings out Hall, threatening to shoot the prisoner himself if anyone tries to stop the hanging, and just as Ballard secretly takes aim at Bill, the ranchers set the gallows on fire. Confusion reigns until Mac brings out Ryman, who reports that Hall confessed that Ballard hired him to kill all three men south of the creek, where they had a right to be, in order to scare the farmers. Lew apologizes to Bill, who leads Hall to a nearby tree and places the noose around his neck. As Nellie sobs, Hall asks the townspeople not to blame her for his sins. Suddenly, Bill sees Ellen on the roof, struggling with Ballard for his gun. When the gun fires, the horse rears, hanging Hall, and Ballard pushes Ellen away, giving Lew room to shoot his former boss down. Finally realizing that Ellen loves him, Bill pulls her into his arms as she weeps for her brother. +

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.