Angel and The Badman (1947)

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Angel and The Badman (1947) Back Cover DVD

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A man on horseback is being chased by gunmen who shoot at him. He outruns them, and races across gorgeous scenery in an arid landscape. Quirt Evans (John Wayne) falls from his faltering horse. A beautiful girl Penelope Worth (Gail Russell) and her father Thomas Worth (John Halloran) see him fall and approach to rescue him, as he is wounded. Before accepting attention to his wound, Quirt insists on going to the telegraph office, where he sends a telegram to claim some land and have it recorded in his name. When he gives his name, the town telegrapher Bradley (Olin Howland) recognizes him as a notorious gunfighter. Quirt loses consciousness and falls into Penelope's arms. Penelope and her father take Quirt to their home and send for the doctor.

Dr. Mangram (Tom Powers) gives Quirt laudanum to anesthetize him, but Quirt remains very restless while unconscious, until the father realizes he is instinctively reaching for his gun. After the gun is emptied of bullets, it is put in Quirt's hand and that relaxes him so the bullet is extracted and his wound is cleaned and bandaged. Dr.. Mangram is a pragmatic atheist who immediately recommends that the family should get Quirt out of their house, but the family refuses because it is their duty as Quakers to tend to the wounded man.

Quirt sleeps in bed for two whole days. While Penelope watches over him, he talks in his sleep about gunfights and women, especially one named Lila. In the kitchen, Penelope asks her mother (Irene Rich) about how she met her father, and how they fell in love.

When Quirt wakes, and hears a noise, he gropes for his gun, which is under the pillow and rises, gun in hand to face a startled Penelope. Quirt's earlier lifestyle of fast draws, fast women, booze, bar fights, and so on doesn't bother the family as they believe there is good that can be nurtured in every person. Quirt gets stronger and relishes the mother's sausages, eggs, donuts and cakes that melt in your mouth.

In town, telegrapher Bradley brags about having a long friendship with Quirt, because Quirt is notorious and feared by everyone in the territory, though he only saw him once when he sent off the telegram. Laredo Stevens (Bruce Cabot) and two henchmen, the gang who had shot Quirt a few days back, come looking for him, question Bradley, and eventually approach the Quaker home. When Quirt is aware of Laredo's presence outside the house, he jumps out of bed and dresses and gets his gun but it has no bullets, as Mr. Worth had emptied it. Talking tough, he bluffs, holding the gang off with his unloaded gun. Laredo wants the land Quirt had secured, and Quirt agrees to sell for twenty thousand dollars and signs a deed. Laredo hands over five thousand, promising to give the rest of the money later when Quirt comes over to collect.

Quirt is respectful of the Quaker family's ways, he hangs his holstered gun outside, never allowing it inside. Exposure to the ways of the Quakers starts to change not only gunfighter Quirt but also the cynical, atheistic doctor who attends to him, grumbling all the time. When Quirt is able, he helps the family in their farm work, and is very grateful for their loving care. For Penelope, it has been virtually love at first sight. Quirt develops feelings for her as they chat about each other, farm work, and Quaker beliefs. In little time, Quirt kisses her, and she reacts ecstatically. They are interrupted by territorial Marshal Wistful McClintock (Harry Carey) who questions Quirt about his recent whereabouts. Penelope's statement that he hasn't been outside the farm for days is totally believed, but the marshal warns about his habits and promises he will be watching closely.

Quirts romantic feelings can't help but increase. At one point Penelope confesses her love for Quirt, and is surprised he doesn't feel the same: "I never thought it could happen to one and not another." Her outright innocence is incredibly touching and endearing, and affects Quirt deeply.

Quirt doesn't want to let the love take over because of the life that he leads and because he will be out looking for revenge on the people who shot him. The tug of his old ways is still strong. Quirt's reputation as a gunslinger comes in very handy in settling a dispute with a neighbor who has diverted water that used to flow toward the Quaker settlement. Neighbor Frederick Carson (Paul Hurst) is convinced by Quirt by the power of his menacing reputation, to "be a good neighbor" and remove the top two boards holding back water that used to flow into flumes and irrigation ditches. Nevertheless it is the genuine and uncritical welcome the old man subsequently receives from the Worths that converts him from obnoxious neighbor into friend. As Carson is happily taking home a basket of pies and donuts from Mrs. Worth, he remarks to the as yet vacillating Quirt, about how good helping his neighbors makes him feel.

As Quirt stays with the family longer, their life becomes more attractive to him. On the way to a surprise arranged for him at a Quaker meeting, Quirt is seen by the passing Randy McCall (Lee Dixon), who is an old friend and former partner in crime. Randy reverses course and goes along. At the meeting, the Quaker group thanks Quirt publicly for solving the water problem, and is given a Bible. Randy is impressed, then enthralled by the Bible given to Quirt, and takes to reading it out loud at any opportunity. During the gathering, the young and handsome local blacksmith approaches Penelope and his interest in courting and marrying her is obvious. Quirt becomes jealous but isn't ready to take responsibilities.

Randy takes Quirt aside after the ceremony and tells him that he knows that Laredo is planning to rustle a large herd as it is driven through a nearby valley the next day. Quirt, overwhelmed by the Quakers' gratitude, and convinced that he isn't good for Penelope, takes the opportunity to get away and try a return to his old life. He takes the blacksmith aside and tells him to quit stalling and marry Penelope, and immediately departs with Randy.

The Laredo gang's attempt to rustle the herd is foiled by Quirt and Randy and another friend. First there are galloping horses, guns blazing, falls from horses, and a stampede, as Laredo attacks, but then Quirts gang comes from behind and one by one picks off the rustlers by using long wooden clubs. Next we see Randy and Quirt drinking at a saloon and casino in Red Rock, where Lila (Joan Barton) is entertaining with her singing. Quirt is no longer the old Quirt. He gambles and wins a pile of chips that he gives to Lila as a goodbye present in honor of their old relationship. Then he picks a fight with a group drinking at the bar by rudely pushing them aside and yelling "More Whiskey!" to start a massive saloon brawl.

He makes it back to the Worth farm and wants to resume with Penelope. McClintock is not convinced of his desire to reform. He remarks "I'm patient, that's what hangs all you fellas in the end, I'm patient", although his regard for Quirts reputation is almost respectful: "You know Quirt, I always figured on usin' a new rope in hangin' you". McClintock keeps dropping by to see Quirt and to interrogate him, reminding Quirt that he is going to enjoy hanging him and is waiting for a showdown with Laredo so that he can "... hang the winner".

Later, when he takes Penelope on a buckboard wagon to pick blackberries, Quirt leaves his gun behind in deference to her wishes. The scene where the two pick blackberries is a romantic idyll, which ends abruptly when Laredo and his gang spot them from a distance and menacingly approach in galloping horses. Outnumbered, without a gun, and with Penelope at his side, there is no option but to run, and there follows a thrilling chase of a wagon on a road being pursued by men on horseback. Quirt maneuvers and takes jumps and steep and narrow paths, one man collides with a tree branch, but eventually his wagon runs off a ledge and falls from a great height into a deep narrow river. Quirt manages to swim to hide below the rocks, pulling an unconscious Penelope with him. Laredo looks upon the scene from a height a few moments later, and assumes Quirt has drowned.

Later, Quirt walks into the Worth farm carrying the unconscious Penelope in his arms, and the doctor is called. The prognosis is bad, the skeptical doctor takes up his sermonizing as to how dangerous Quirt is to those around him, and how frustrating his profession is, that he works to patch up people who keep on doing dangerous things and being hurt again and again.

Quirt, who believes he is losing the great love of his life, wants revenge, and goes into town to face Laredo when he is told Laredo is in the saloon. He enters one end of town, walking alone, the townspeople scatter. Laredo is shocked to be told Quirt is at the other end of town, inviting him to come out. First he sends one of his henchmen to peek out to verify. Then, he decides to take another swig of a whisky bottle, and waits.

Meantime, Penelope has recovered consciousness, and, weak as she is, demands to be driven to town in the wagon, lying down. The Worth wagon arrives on the scene. Penelope insists on trying to talk Quirt out of violence. Quirt turns his back to the saloon to talk to her, just as Laredo emerges. In part to protect Penelope who would be in the line of fire, Quirt drops his gun and turns to face Laredo weaponless. It might have been a sad finale, were it not for the vigilant McClintock, who has his rifle pointed at Laredo from a distance, and shoots as he sees Laredo reach for his gun. So the bad guys die by causes that are natural to them, namely bullets, but Quirt doesn't do the shooting. As Quirt departs on his way home with the Worths, the Marshal picks up Quirt's gun and announces he will hang it in his office along with a new rope, in memory of the adversary who never was.

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