Gunfight in Abilene (1967)



The Story:

It's a messy Civil War scene. Major Cal Wayne and his men are on patrol. The confederate troops have been boxed in by the Yankees for 3 days. They have had no sleep and are running out of supplies. Heartless snipers are killing Cal's men one by one until he has only 5 left. As Cal goes alone to a quiet area in Thompson's Woods, he hears someone rustle in the bushes. He turns and shoots, only to find out he has fatally injured his best friend, Dave Evers.


Cal hurriedly carries his dying friend to safety and suddenly the snipers hit him too.


Cal is taken to a prison hospital and then a prison camp. He is traumatized by what he has done to Dave. Cal cannot tell anyone the truth about the incident. He is guilt-ridden and vows to never fire a gun again. As he lay in the Prison camp, word comes that the war is over. Instead of happiness, Cal feels nothing but pain and worry. He knows when he goes home to Abilene, Kansas, he must face his best friend's brother, Grant Evers.

Cal arrives back to handshakes from the people back in Abilene who are surprised to see him, hearing rumors that he had been killed in the war. Grant Evers, who is now a cattle broker, is especially happy to see him, and urges Cal, who was fast with a gun, to take back his old job as sheriff. He has no idea that Cal is the one who killed his brother.


Just then a fight breaks out in the middle of town and Cal has his first encounter with the evil and greedy sheriff Joe Slade. Everyone wants Cal back as sheriff, but he is hesitant to do so. Cal also learns that Grant is marrying his girlfriend Amy, who thought Cal had been killed in the war. Cal congratulates them both, trying to hide his feelings for Amy. As he walks away, he is welcomed back to town by Leann, who greets him with a kiss.


Cal learns later in the saloon from a friend that legislators are looking out for the cattlemen in Abilene, and the farmers are selling their cattle to Grant. He also learns more about Joe Slade and how he murdered the former sheriff when he was deputy and stole his badge. As he leaves the saloon, Slade questions Cal about his missing gun. Cal tells him he has heard talk about Slade being a "real good" sheriff and how he feels he doesn't need a gun in Abilene. When Cal goes back to his room, he looks at his gun in the dresser drawer and sighs with pain. Just then, Leann comes to his door, and confesses her love for him.


The next morning, Cal awakes to a crowd of farmers outside his room, voicing
their anger at Grant Evers. Grant and Slade had driven a herd of cattle through a
farmer's fence and the men want to protect what belongs to them. Grant reassures
them that the men will get their money. Cord, a young man in town, is the first to
say again that Cal is needed as Sheriff and the rest of the men agree. Cal once again
goes to the dresser drawer and looks at his gun in pain, but he knows what he must do.


Later that night, over drinks and cigars, Grant pleads with Cal to reconsider becoming Sheriff again. He tells Cal that Slade had made enemies of all the farmers and Cal is needed to maintain balance in Abilene. The range war could wipe out Grant and he needs Cal. Joe Slade will be reassigned as a hired hand to Grant. Cal, who has considered a move to Oregon, finally agrees to take his old job back, with one stipulation: there will be a "no guns" law in Abilene.


After leaving Grant's house, Cal goes to see Amy, who lives with her drunken widowed father. He tells her that he is going to be sheriff again. Amy is upset that he did not let her know he was still alive. She loves Grant "in a way," but it is obvious that Cal and Amy still want each other. Just then, they see Slade riding his horse over to Grant's. At his house, Grant tells an angry Slade to turn in his resignation as Sheriff.

The next day Cal begins his reign as a gunless sheriff by taking a tour of the town with his deputy, Ward. The new "no gun" law is in effect, but only 12 guns have been turned in. One of the citizens, Loop, a friend of Joe Slade's, refuses to turn in his gun. Cal fights him and wrestles the gun away. In the end, he makes sure everyone has seen the announcement of the new law in Abilene.



Later that night, Amy, who is a hostess for a dinner party at Grant's house, professes her love to Grant and vows she has no feelings for Cal. But when Grant demands their wedding be moved up to the next week, she is hesitant. However, Grant has the last word. Meanwhile, at the sheriff's house, Cal is still wrestling with unresolved feelings of Dave's murder and has nightmares about the incident.


The next day, Amy rides into town and Cal helps her out of her carriage. She asks Cal why he doesn't tell her not to marry Grant. She asks if it's because of Leann and he says no. Amy asks him why again. Cal knows he cannot hurt his friend Grant after all that has happened, and looks longingly at Amy, but says nothing. After she walks away, he is notified by a citizen that Grant's men beat up the Collins boys last night. Grant has claimed that the farmers have been helping themselves to his cattle. But some people think Grant owes them something.


Meanwhile, Cord Decker is bringing back a calf to Grant Evers' land that had strayed on to his property. Joe Slade and Loop stop him. They first tease Cord about his young son, saying that the child is not his. After insinuating his wife slept around while Cord was fighting in the war, they beat the young man. After that, Slade horsewhips Cord, warning him to never trespass again on Evers' property and to leave his cattle alone. The men then strap Cord to a wild horse and turn it loose. Cal and Ward see the horse running wild. Cal rescues Cord and takes him Doc Casswell's.


Later, Grant warns Slade that he has caused too much trouble and if Cord dies it will force a showdown between him and the farmers. At her house, Amy hears a horse go by and looks out the window. Her father knows she was hoping it was Cal coming to see her. He tells her he is "stone cold sober" and urges her not to marry Grant Evers.


Cal is at Cord's bedside. Cord becomes conscious for awhile and painfully tells Cal of the filthy lies Slade told him about his son. Cal goes outside to the townspeople and tells them Slade will be his "personal affair" if Cord dies.


Later that night, Cal goes to see Grant, and Amy meets him at the door. She is waiting for Grant to tell him the engagement is over. Cal tells her not to hurt him. Amy is confused and asks Cal what he has been running away from since he has been back in Abilene. Cal admits to killing Dave and, Grant, who has been listening, walks in. Cal tells his story to Amy and Grant.

Hear Cal's confession! (Audio)



Grant is furious -- not only has Cal "stolen" his woman, he has also killed his brother. He reaches into his safe and pulls out a gun. Cal wrestles Grant to the ground and takes the gun away from him. Grant angerily orders Amy and Cal to leave. As he leaves, Cal puts Grant's gun on the chair.


As they are leaving Grant's, Cal and Amy meet Ward who tells them Cord has died and the farmers want to hang Grant and Slade. Slade in the meantime is at Grant's telling him they are in trouble. Grant is drunk and angry. He gives Slade 200 dollars to leave but Slade wants more. Grant points his gun at Slade, but Slade is quicker and shoots and kills Grant. He robs him of his money and keys.


Cal and Ward return to Grant's and find his body. Cal takes Grant's gun and straps it on. He knows what he has to do.


It's sundown in Abilene and Slade is using Grant's key to get into his office. He steals some money. Cal arrives and walks down the sidewalks, looking for Slade. Amy is staying in town too and looks out her window. As Cal walks through the silent town, Slade sees him through the office door.


Amy accidently rolls up the window shade. The noise breaks the deadly silence and startles Cal. She calls his name and Slade starts shooting. Dodging bullets, Cal gets hit in the shoulder.


As Cal scrambles to hide, Amy runs to his side. Slade calls Cal a coward and loads his gun, ready to shoot Cal again.


HEAR Cal tell Amy his next move! (Audio)


Cal and Slade have the final showdown...


....And Cal wins......


Slade is dead. Amy runs to Cal's side and they walk off into the sunset together...


The End




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