When the Daltons Rode is the much-embellished tale of that celebrated outlaw family, the Daltons. Broderick Crawford, Brian Donlevy, Stu Erwin and Frank Albertson play the gunslinging brothers, with Mary Gordon on hand as Ma Dalton. In the tradition of the 1939 western Jesse James, the film whitewashes the Daltons, showing them being forced into committing their crimes by duplicitous railroad interests. There's plenty of comic banter and byplay until about twenty minutes from the end; then the film becomes a nonstop marathon of action, halted only by the Daltons' fateful (and for the most part fatal) bank robbery in Coffeyville, Kansas. Randolph Scott is the nominal hero, a lawyer who befriends the boys and tries to dissuade them from their life of crime. When the Daltons Rode ends with all four brothers dead as doornails--even though the script was based on the autobiography of the surviving Dalton!
by Hal Erickson synopsis