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Kit Denton (Bob Steele) is an acrobat with Rainey's (Theodore Lorch)
circus, where he performs high wire acts together with his father (Gabby
Hayes). But when they want to set up tent in a quiet little Western
village, MacDonald (John Elliott), one of the bigget & mightiest
landowners in the region, tries to chase them off. But since MacDonalds is
not the law as such, Rainey, with the support of most of the locals,
decides to put on a sshow anyhow.
Father Denton is nevous though, playing in these parts of the country,
since around here he's wanted for murder. Just a good thing that during
his act he is in clown make-up ... but somehow, MacDonald spots him
anyhow, without make-up, & he tells his right hand man Connors (Perry
Murdock) to take care of him ...
The night of the shw: MacDonald has come to see the show anyhow,
together with Martha (Vane Calvert), the woman he loves (unrequitted).
When during an act, dad Denton spots Martha though, he loses concentration
for a moment ... & his son is almost gravely injured because of that.
Later, during an aerial-act, Connors shoots him from the tent's top,
& it's only thanks to his son that he doesn't fall to his death &
survives it all only slightly injured.
Soon enough, Kit can apprehend Connors & make him talk - & he
confesses that MacDonald is behind it all. Kit then goes after MacDonald,
but as soon as he confronts him, MacDonald is shot by Connors, who has
somehow grabbed a gun of one of those guarding him (as to why, I have not
the slightest clue).
With his dieing brath, MacDonald confesses that Martha is indeed dad
Denton's sweetheart & Kit's mother, but he was madly in love with her
(& still is) & framed dad Denton with a murder MacDonald himself
actually committed, to get rid of the competition ... but to no avail,
Martha has waited for dad Denton all these years. & finally, as Denton
is cleared of the charges against him, he & Martha can stay together.
Robert N.Bradbury was never a man who cared too much about genre
conventions if they were in the way of telling a story, so it comes as no
big surprise that this film, marketed as a Western, took the genre to the
circus (literally) & played much more like a backstage melodrama, with
a bit of mystery thrown in.
The combination of Western & circus at least makes some sense,
since many of the actors & especially stuntmen (who in those times
often also had small acting roles in the films they stunted in) had their
roots in the circus or vaudeville (& among them director Robert
The film as such though is one of Bradbury's lesser works, way too much
time is spent with the depiction of circus performances while the rather
thin story takes back seat.