The Night Riders (1939) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Talbot uses a phony land grant to rule thirteen million acres, taxing everyone heavily and evicting those who won't pay. The Three Mesquiteers becomes mysterious "night riders" to fight this evil.

  • The Three Mesquiteers, Stony Brooke (John Wayne), Tucson Smith (Ray Corrigan) and Lulaby Johnson (Max Terhune), are returning to their Texas ranch via a riverboat, when they witness gambler Pierce Talbot (George Douglas), caught cheating at cards,stabbed in the arm and thrown overboard. He swims to shore and is taken in by Hazleton (Walter Wills), a former engraver at the mint convicted for counterfeiting. Hazleton shows Talbot a forged land grant he has created. An interested Talbot is drawn into Hazleton's plans to lay claim to 3,000,000 acres, and he assumes the identity of Don Luis de Serrano.The forgery is upheld in court and posing as a benevolent land baron, the greedy Don soon extracts heavy taxes from the real landowners. He also, with the aid of his many henchmen, takes livestock, possessions and property . Even the Three- M ranch is not immune and while the Mesquiteers repulse the Don's collectors, but are forced by their friend sheriff Pratt (Kermit Mayanard) to move off the land. They join the other dispossessed ranchers and write to President Garfield and even he is forced to acknowledge the Don's claim. Stony stirs his partners into action by reminding them that the ones who opened up this country didn't sit around and cry for help...they took action. Clad in white, the Mesquiteers become Los Capaqueros,, mysterious caped riders taking up the cause of ranchers. Like Robin Hood, they steal from the collectors and return the goods and money to the poor. THe enraged Don Luis sends his henchmen out to hunt down the caped-robbers, who, escaping one of the Don's traps, climb into the bedroom of a surprised President Garfield (Francis Sayles), who is touring the west and anxious to relieve the tense situation. He tells them he needs hard evidence that the Don is not who he claims to be. Stony finds the proof but not before the president is assassinated and they are captured and facing a firing squad.

  • Hazleton forges a Spanish land grant and then gets card cheat Talbot to pose as the owner Don Luis. When the court rules it authentic, they start to kick the ranchers off the land. The Three Mesquiteers are included and fight back as the mysterious Night Riders. When Stony meets Don Luis he remembers him as the card sharp and sets out to prove him a fake.


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