AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Silver Lode
Alternate Title: Desperate Men
Director: Allan Dwan (Dir)
Release Date:   Jun 1954
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 24 Jun 1954
Production Date:   late Dec 1953--mid-Jan 1954 at Republic Studios
Duration (in mins):   80
Duration (in feet):   7,239
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   John Payne (Dan Ballard)  
    Lizabeth Scott (Rose Evans)  
    Dan Duryea (Fred McCarty)  
    Dolores Moran (Dolly)  
    Emile Meyer (Sheriff Woolley)  
    Robert Warwick (Judge Cranston)  
    John Hudson (Mitch Evans)  
    Harry Carey, Jr. (Johnson)  
    Alan Hale Jr. (Kirk)  
    Stuart M. Whitman (Wicker)  
    Frank Sully (Paul Herbert)  
    Morris Ankrum (Zachary Evans)  
    Hugh Sanders (Rev. Field)  
    Florence Auer (Mrs. Elmwood)  
    Roy Gordon (Dr. Elmwood)  
    Edgar Barrier (Thad Taylor)  
    Joe Devlin (Little)  
    Leo Gordon (Graham)  
    Byron Foulger (Prescott)  
    Ralph Sanford (Taggert, bartender)  
    Myron Healey (Cowboy)  
    Charles Evans (Townsman)  
    Burt Mustin (Townsman)  
    Gene Roth (Townsman)  
    John Dierkes (Townsman)  

Summary: In Silver Lode, as Fourth of July celebrations get underway, four men--leader Fred McCarty, Johnson, Kirk and Wicker--ride into town, demanding to know the whereabouts of Dan Ballard. The men are directed to the home of wealthy Zachary Evans, whose daughter Rose is about to marry Dan, a local rancher. After interrupting the ceremony, McCarty identifies himself as a U.S. Marshal and accuses Dan of shooting McCarty's brother in the back two years before and stealing $20,000 from him. Although Dan claims that McCarty is a rustler and killer, McCarty produces papers certifying his own position, along with an arrest warrant for Dan. Sure that Dan soon will be exonerated, Rose and Zach insist on continuing with the wedding, but Dan demurs. Thad Taylor, Dan's lawyer, then offers to take McCarty's paperwork to Judge Cranston, but after he leaves, McCarty demands that Dan prepare to ride to California, where the killing took place. To the annoyance of McCarty, all of the wedding guests accompany Dan to his house and attest to his integrity. In his stable, Dan admits to Rose that he did kill McCarty's brother but did so in self-defense. Meanwhile, concerned that McCarty might kill Dan in revenge, Sheriff Woolley forms a posse, which includes Rose's brother Mitch, to escort McCarty and his deputies. Surrounded by unhappy townspeople, McCarty goes to Cranston's house to discuss Dan's situation, and although the judge is sympathetic to Dan, he upholds McCarty's extradition request. Dan then begs McCarty for two hours to explain himself to the town, and McCarty, anxious to appear reasonable, agrees. Dan's first task is to send two telegrams to sheriffs in California, asking them to confirm McCarty's identity, but Paul Herbert, the telegrapher, discovers that the wires are down and rides off to repair them. Dan next goes to the saloon and begs Dolly, a dance hall girl and former lover, to use her charms to obtain information about McCarty's deputies. Dolly, who is jealous of Rose, refuses to help, so Dan approaches the men himself, offering them $1,000 to expose McCarty. Johnson takes the bait and, meeting secretly with Dan in the courthouse, demands $5,000 to implicate McCarty. Dan heads to the Evanses' and asks Zach for the cash, which Zach happily gives. Mitch then helps Dan elude McCarty and Kirk and rushes back to the saloon to find Johnson. While Dan and Johnson slip away to the livery stable, Dolly, who has had a change of heart, distracts Wicker. Dan, however, discovers where Dan and Johnson are and sneaks into the stable through the loft. After Johnson tells Dan that McCarty had his marshal papers forged, killed the forger and cut the telegraph wires, McCarty reveals himself and shoots Johnson. Now alone with Dan, McCarty offers to end his pursuit if Dan pays him the $20,000 he won from his brother in a poker game. Unknown to McCarty, Sheriff Woolley has also entered through the loft and overhears McCarty. Woolley and McCarty exchange gunfire, but while McCarty is barely wounded, Woolley dies. When Cranston and the Evanses show up, Dan has two guns trained on McCarty, who accuses Dan of murdering Woolley and Johnson. As Rose is now his only defender, Dan tries to flee town but runs into the returning telegrapher. After Dan begs Paul to send the telegrams, Wicker, Kirk and Mitch catch up to him, and Dan ends up killing the deputies and wounding Mitch. Dan then sneaks into Dolly's room in the saloon, and she hides him when McCarty comes looking for him. Desperate, McCarty deputizes all the townsmen and begins a house-by-house search. Dan escapes to the Evanses' and instructs Rose to make sure Paul sends the telegrams. Zach finds the two together, however, and shoots Dan when he tries to leave. Only wounded, Dan overwhelms the older man and, just as McCarty bursts in, flees once more. Dan then takes Cranston hostage and fights off McCarty long enough to seek refuge in the church. Although McCarty bursts into the church demanding that Rev. Field turn Dan over, Field refuses to help. Rose and Dolly, meanwhile, join forces at the telegraph office and cajole Paul, who sent Dan's wires but has not yet received a reply, to write a phony return telegram, implicating McCarty as a criminal. Rose runs to the church with the fake reply, just as McCarty corners Dan in the bell tower and begins firing on him. The telegram exonerates Dan, and McCarty is killed when one of his bullets richochets off a bell and pierces his heart. In the telegraph office, Dolly then learns that a real telegram has been received, and Dan's innocence is confirmed. 

Production Company: Pinecrest Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Allan Dwan (Dir)
  Lee Lukather (Asst dir)
  Ralph J. Slosser (Asst dir)
Producer: Benedict Bogeaus (Pres)
  Benedict Bogeaus (Prod)
Writer: Karen DeWolf (Story and scr)
Photography: John Alton (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase (Art dir)
Film Editor: James Leicester (Supv ed)
Set Decoration: Charles Thompson (Set dec)
Costumes: Gwen Wakeling (Ward des)
Music: Louis Forbes (Mus score)
Production Misc: Leon Chooluck (Prod supv)
Country: United States
Language: English

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 4/6/1954 dd/mm/yyyy LP3847

PCA NO: 16923
Physical Properties: Sd: RCA Sound System
  col: Eastman Color
  Lenses/Prints: print by Technicolor

Genre: Western
Subjects (Major): False arrests
  Impersonation and imposture
Subjects (Minor): Bells
  Brothers and sisters
  Fathers and daughters
  Dance hall girls
  Fourth of July
  Gunshot wounds

Note: The working titles of this film were Desperate Men and Four Desperate Men . According to a Dec 1953 HR news item, Silver Lode was to be shot in a "new anamorphic process known as ScenicScope." Although the DV review lists an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and HR production charts list ScenicScope as the process used during filming, ScenicScope is not credited onscreen. The Dec 1953 HR news item also notes that the picture would be shot in Ansco Color, but Eastman Color is cited in production charts and no color process is listed on the film itself. Dolores Moran, who plays "Dolly" in the film, was married to producer Benedict Bogeaus at the time of production. Modern sources include Paul Birch in the cast. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   15 May 1954.   
Daily Variety   12 May 54   p. 3.
Film Daily   19 May 54   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Dec 53   p. 1, 4
Hollywood Reporter   24 Dec 53   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jan 54   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   12 May 54   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   22 May 54   p. 2.
New York Times   24 Jul 54   p. 6.
Variety   12 May 1954.   

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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.
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