This landmark western -- which, along with Stagecoach, has often been credited with revitalizing what had become a stagnant genre -- stars Errol Flynn as Wade Hatton, a cattle man who arrives in the frontier community of Dodge City, which is overrun by footloose cowboys and outlaws. When Hatton helps Dodge City lawmen capture a gang of cattle rustlers led by Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot), he's asked to help guide a wagon train into town with his friends Rusty Hart (Alan Hale, Sr.) and Tex Baird (Guinn Williams). En route, an impulsive young cowpoke named Lee Irving (William Lundigan) needlessly fires off his pistol, sparking a cattle stampede that leads to his death. When Hatton and his men arrive in Dodge, they discover Surrett is once again at large, and his gang has taken over the city. Appointed the city's new sheriff, Hatton is determined to clean up the town and put the outlaws out of business. In his rare moments off duty, Hatton tries to win the affections of Abbie Irving (Olivia de Havilland), but she believes that Hatton is responsible for the death of her brother Lee; Hatton's habit of flirting with dance hall girl Ruby Gilman (Ann Sheridan) does nothing to improve her opinion of him. A solid box office hit, Dodge City was the first of a series of westerns for swashbuckling star Flynn; his next oater, Virginia City, followed in 1940.
by Mark Deming synopsis