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Dakota Incident is a 1956 Trucolor Western film directed by Lewis R. Foster starring Linda Darnell, Dale Robertson, John Lund and Ward Bond.

Dakota Incident
Directed by Lewis R. Foster
Produced by Michael Baird
Written by Frederick Louis Fox
Starring Linda Darnell
Dale Robertson
John Lund
Ward Bond
Music by R. Dale Butts
Cinematography Ernest Haller
Edited by Howard A. Smith
Production
company
Republic Pictures
Distributed by Republic Pictures
Release date
  • July 23, 1956 (1956-07-23) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English

On the run after a bank robbery, Rick Largo convinces his cohort, Frank Banner, to shoot Frank's brother John, then split the booty two ways. Johnny, however, only pretends to be dead. He shows up in town, challenges his brother to a shoot-out, even though Frank swears that Largo fired the bullet. Frank misses and Johnny spares his life, then tells him to get out of town. Johnny next has a shootout with Largo, during which Largo is killed. With his vengeance completed, Johnny decides to find a horse so that he can get to Laramie, Wyoming, where he plans to buy a ranch.

Meanwhile, saloon singer Amy Clarke also determines to get to Laramie so that she can retrieve money stolen from her by her crooked agent and former sweetheart. The stagecoach to Laramie is full, but Amy bribes the clerk with one of her scented garters and gets a place. But, when the stage arrives, the driver and horses are full of Cheyenne Indian arrows, and all the passengers are dead. Undaunted, Amy insists on taking the stage anyway and convinces Johnny to drive the coach and harness his newly-purchased horse to the rig.

Amy's French maid, Giselle, refuses to accompany her, but four other passengers ride along: the bombastic Senator Blakeley, who continually espouses the Indian cause despite only knowing them in "the literary sense"; Carter Hamilton, a bank clerk sought for the robbery committed by Johnny and his gang, who is determined to follow the outlaw until he can turn him in and clear his name; Mark Chester, a gold speculator from Pennsylvania; and Minstrel, Amy's accompanist, companion and protector. En route, the group stops to rest and finds Frank's corpse pierced with Cheyenne arrows. It is then that Johnny reveals that Frank is his kid brother.

A short time later, they break a wheel and crash, and move the stage to the safety of a dry gully while they make repairs. Their precautions do not protect them from a Cheyenne attack, during which Chester is killed. A full-scale rifle battle ensues and, with each Indian attack, Amy ridicules Blakeley for his support of the "savages," but he continues to find excuses for the brutality. The Indians wait in the rocks above while the stranded travelers begin to feel the effects of thirst.

When Hamilton and Johnny decide to try to steal one of the Indians' horses and get help, Hamilton is injured and Johnny shoots the Indian, saving Hamilton's life. When the two arrive back in the gully, they find Blakeley flirting with Amy. Although Amy insults Blakeley by calling him "father," Johnny becomes jealous. As the group continues to suffer from heat and thirst, Minstrel sees a mirage and insists on going to it, with Hamilton, in his own state of delirium, believing that Johnny lied about the lack of water. Minstrel is shot by the Indians, and Amy once again chides Blakeley, and he decides to prove his pacifist methods by talking peace to the Indians. He goes out with open arms and words of brotherhood, but the Indians shoot him. As he dies, he concedes to Amy, who feels responsible for his death, that indeed words may not be enough, but that, perhaps, the Indians just did not understand.

Soon Hamilton, too, is near death and Johnny decides to risk his own life to save him and Amy by retrieving a canteen that the Indians planted as a lure. He takes the canteen but finds it dry. He begins to taunt the Indians. Just then the gully begins to fill up with water from rains higher up, and Amy, bringing a drink to Hamilton, discovers him dead. After an Indian - the only survivor of the attackers, and without ammunition for his rifle - attacks Johnny with a knife, Johnny almost drowns him, but decides to spare his life instead, telling him to return to his people and report that a white man gave him back his life.

Johnny tells Amy that he will keep his promise to the dying Hamilton to clear his name and return the money to the bank. She says that she no longer cares about her former sweetheart, and the two embrace just as the Indians return. The Indian whose life was spared brings two horses as a gift, and says he will walk back to his people. "That is part of the gift." he says. The couple regret that Blakeley could not have lived to see this last act of friendship.

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