Synopsis by Hans J. Wollstein
Making his debut as Columbia Pictures' new cowboy hero -- replacing, incidentally, the aging Tim McCoy -- handsome Charles Starrett played Johnny Flagg, a roving cowboy who arrives in Oro Grande in the midst of a feud between ranchers and homesteader. Lead by the disreputable Bar Munro (Harry Woods), the ranchers are attempting to scare the settlers off valuable land leased from the government. Lovely Barbara McGrail, meanwhile, suspects Munro of murdering her father and enlists Johnny's help. When Cattlemen's Association foreman Harvey Campbell (Edward le saint) switches sides to support the settlers, Munro has him killed, framing Johnny for the crime.The latter, however, carries proof of his innocence and instead challenges Munro to a shootout. Munro draws but is too slow for Johnny who, victorious, asks for Barbara's hand in marriage. At 6"2' and sporting a white Steson, black shirt and flowing scarf -- a piece of silk reportedly "borrowed" from a nightgown Rita Hayworth had used in a film -- Starrett was an instant hit as a cowboy star and would go on to make an unprecedented 131 Westerns for Columbia, ending his long run with the studio with The Kid from Broken Gun in 1952. Starrett's first leading lady, Joan Perry, later married studio mogul Harry Cohn. Ostensibly based on a story by Peter B. Kyne, The Gallant Defender including two musical numbers -- Blue Skies Above and Covered Wagons -- written and performed by the Western music group The Sons of the Pioneers who, like Starrett, had recently signed with Columbia.
accusation, bad-guy, cattlemen, cowboy, false-accusation, frame-up, good-guy, homestead, killing, murder, range-war