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Edwin L. Marin|
Oren W. Haglund
|Produced by||Saul Elkins|
T. W. Blackburn|
James D. Webb
based on the novel by Blackburn
|Music by||Max Steiner|
|Cinematography||Wilfred M. Cline|
|Edited by||Thomas Reilly|
|April 7, 1951|
|Box office||$1.3 million (US rentals)|
A low-level feud in 1880 New Mexico Territory pits wealthy rancher Pierre Challon and son Marc versus homesteaders on the other side of Raton Pass. The Challon Ranch is so large that it is split in two by the Raton Pass, and the Challons have leased the strip from the homesteaders to allow their 10,000 head of cattle to graze on all parts of the ranch.
Two strangers arrive by stagecoach, a ruthless man named Van Cleave and an attractive woman, Ann, who promptly seduces and marries Marc, who is blissfully unaware that she's strictly in it out of greed, not love.
While he and his father are away on business, Ann offers to work out a land irrigation deal with Prentice, a banker. Ann, bothered that she has little say in the daily operation of the ranch, seduces Prentice. When Marc returns, he finds Ann and Prentice are romantically involved and planning to swindle him out of the ranch.
Marc sells the ranch to Ann, confident she and Prentice will not be able to manage the spread and will not earn enough money to cover more than their initial $100,000 ($2,535,900 today) down payment, which will put the ranch back in his hands while exacting some revenge for Ann's betrayal. Pierre disagrees with his son's plan and leaves the Territory.
Lena Casamajor, a homesteader's niece, has always loved Marc. She fears that Ann will ruin the ranch and escalate the issues against the homesteaders, ruining the region for everyone. She helps Marc meet with the homesteaders, where he offers to use the downpayment to build irrigation for all parties, if they agree to help him deny Ann access to the lease Marc personally holds with the homesteaders.
Ann hires Van Cleave as her foreman, leading a band of thugs to battle Marc's original ranchands and the homesteaders for possession of the strip. Lena later sets off to bring Pierre back after Van Cleave incapacitates Marc by cold-bloodedly shooting him in the back and later shooting her uncle as well.
Fed up with her ways, Prentice leaves Ann, but Van Cleave kills him and the sheriff. The Challons are the only ones who can stop him, and they do, but not before a shot by Van Cleave accidentally kills Ann.