Robert Q. Lewis
Ride Beyond Vengeance was a western movie based on "The Night of the Tiger" by Al Dewlen where after being tortured and robbed of his savings, a buffalo hunter sets out to exact violent revenge on the men who branded him. The film was also known as Night of the Tiger, The Tiger Wore Guns and You Can Never Go Home Again.
Plot[edit | edit source]
A census taker (James MacArthur) arrives in the Teas town of Cold Iron with a population of 789. He goes into he local bar for a cold beer and tells the bartender the town has an unusual number of citizens named "Jonas" and "Reprisal". He observes a painting above the bar of violent street fight. He is then told of the events behind the fight involving a buffalo hunter and gunman named Jonas Trapp and the night the local Mexicans still call "The Night of the Tiger" their name for Jonas.
In flashbacks, we learn that Jonas Trapp (Connors) is a poor cowboy in love wit a wealthy woman named Jessie Larkin (Hays). They intended to marry despite the objections of her aunt (Ruth Warrick). The aunt sees Jonas as a man of no prospects and prefers she marry someone more substantial.
To gain the aunt's permission, Jessie pretends to be pregnant. Jonas marries her, but quickly tires of his dull life in town and being forced to live off his wife's money. He heads for the hills without her to become a buffalo hunter, hoping to amass enough money to give Jessie the life he feels she deserves, without her aunt's involvement. This is in direct contrast to TV Guide's review at the time that Jonas was a fortune-hunter after Jessie's money.
Jonas is gone for more than 10 years. He amasses a small fortune of his own and a reputation as a dangerous gunman who once traded shots with Clay Allison and walked away. He decides it is finally time to return home. On the trail, Jonas stumbles over the campfire of an obvious rustler and is ambushed by three men. Brooks Durham (Rennie), the local banker, John "Johnsey Boy" Hood (Bill Bixby) a sadistic young hustler with a love only of fine clothes and himself, and Coates (Claude Atkins) a notorious drunk. They accuse him of being the rustler; and despite his denials, beat him, take his money, then brand him with a running iron an leave him for dead.
A farmer named Hanley finds Jonas and helps nurse him to health. Trapp, learning that his money as been stolen, is consumed by a desire for revenge and heads back for Cold Iron, where he learns from his father that Jessie's aunt has died and his wife is now engaged to another man - Brooks Durham. When Jessie encounters him on the street, her only reaction is anger over his abandonment, and fear that his return will spoil her prospects of remarriage.
In the course of his remaining in town, Jonas continues hunting for the men who branded him. He takes "Johnsey-Boy" Hood on his way back from romancing the lonely wife of a local farmer (Gloria Grahame) in hopes of cheating her out of some money. Under the threat of being "branded and gelded" by Jonas, Hood's sanity cracks. He grabs the hot iron and rams it repeatedly into his stomach as he runs screaming into the woods. He later commits suicide.
Jonas also encounters the saloon bouncer (Buddy Baer) a giant of a man whom Jonas had met the night before. The bouncer doesn't like it that the town is laughing at him for letting Jonas leave the bar with a bottle of liquor that Jonas promise to pay for later, and now wants the money for the bottle Jonas took the day before. The resulting fight presages the subject of the painting seen in the framing sequence, and the bouncer is nearly beaten to death. Only the arrival of Jonas' father stops the fight.
Hanley is revealed as one of the rustlers involved with Coates. Coates kills Hanley when the old man denies having Jonas' money. Coates reasons that Durham must have it and tries a little blackmail. Durham threatens to kill Coates, telling him that he used to wear his gun tied to his leg, and he has used it on better men than Coates. But the alcoholic Coates is beyond reasoning. Jonas runs into Durham on the street, the last man on his list, but both are ambushed by Coates, who is on a drunken rampage. Coates is eventually beaten to a pulp by Jonas, then killed when he goes for his gun. That act of violence apparently takes the thirst for revenge out of Jonas and he leaves his now-empty 45 behind on the bar.
When Durham finally confesses to the town what he and the others did to Jonas and that he took the money, Jonas can only knock him down in disgust and walk away. He leaves the cash - and his need for revenge - behind.
The flashback ends with Jonas mounted up and on his way out of town. Jessie pleads with Jonas to stay, but he demurs and the scene ends with her standing in the street as she watches him ride off.
The film ends with the bartender showing off the pistol left behind. He and the census taker wonder if Jessie left with Jonas. The bartender wants to believe she did, but the census taker says she probably didn't, echoing the film's song says "You can never go home again".