Hangman's Knot (1952) Movie Script

Thought it'd be
another stagecoach.
Not this time.
That's our wagon, all right...
Remember, don't hit
that dynamite too soon.
I can't do it!
- Can't do what?
- I can't see the marker.
Been in these blazing rocks
so long I can't see.
Briggs! Shroeder!
- Rumsey!
- They got Rumsey. I seen it.
Check the others.
They can't all be dead.
I'm afraid they got Shroeder too.
Jamie, go get the mules.
Look over the bluecoats.
There's only four boxes of gold.
Get that gold on the pack mules.
Major, over here, quick!
He's alive. I didn't shoot him...
...just shot the gun out of his hand.
What'll we do?
I don't know. Can't take prisoners,
we have no medicine.
We'll leave water and food...
The horses are still around.
He could make it back to Carson City.
Put that away.
Help me get him against that rock.
Cass, you and Egan get the gold
out of that wagon, quick.
Captain, we're Confederate soldiers.
On special duty from
the army of northern Virginia.
Better keep me alive, reb.
You're going to need me.
Need you? Why?
- What's he trying to...?
- You might want this.
Thanks, Egan.
- What were you trying to tell us?
- The war is over.
You got licked, reb.
You're lying.
Lee would never give up.
Over a month ago.
Lee surren...
You better keep me alive.
He was lying. Just trying to keep
us here. He was lying, that's all.
We'll keep our meeting with
Captain Peterson. We'll know then.
They told me you'd been under fire.
I was. Five and a half days,
And you never killed a man?
I don't know.
No, sir.
I want you with us when we get home.
You won't be...
Hey, Matt, we're here!
Somewhere between here
and the Texas border...
...you're going to have to grow up.
Major! Just about given you up!
You're a sight for sore eyes,
major. All of you.
Everything came off all right?
We lost three men. We got the gold,
over a quarter-million dollars' worth.
Well, it'll be worth 3000 men
to the Confederacy...
- How long have you been here?
- Here? Right here?
- Right here.
- Too long, major.
Let's get that gold into the medicine
wagon, and you fellas dust out of here.
Time's your problem now.
Where were you
before you came up here?
Why? What's the trouble, major?
Not sure. Where were you?
Moving around, getting known.
Virginia City was my last stop,
three weeks ago. Why?
Then I won't have to tell you.
The gold isn't worth even six men
to the Confederacy.
There isn't any Confederacy.
I wanted to ride out and warn you,
but it was too late.
I was sure it was too late.
If I'd have left here,
I'd have missed you for sure.
- I wasn't gonna take it for myself. L...
- We've heard enough.
You knew where we planned to attack.
You had time to come out and stop it.
To save the lives of over a dozen...
Don't ever try that again.
What did you say?
The war's over.
There's no army, no rank.
Don't ever use your
hands on me again.
Listen to me, all of you.
The war's not over for us.
Those dead men back there
were Nevada Volunteers.
This territory will be full of posses,
men from the war...
...and they're not gonna believe
a word we tell them.
We needed Peterson, but he's dead.
Till we get out of here,
someone's gotta give orders.
So if we're gonna have trouble
from you, let's have it now.
Fine. We'll have to let these horses
blow. We'll camp here till night falls.
I guess I lost my head, Matt.
What's happened to you?
- Is it that easy to kill a man?
- Well, isn't it?
What else we been doing
for the past five years?
Peterson had it coming.
Is that all it takes?
You've changed.
A lot more than you think.
Well, you haven't.
You've known me for 10 years...
...and you've never stopped trying
to cut me down to your size.
Take care of your horse.
I'll take over, Cass.
- Coffee's still hot.
- Coffee?
I ain't been thinking
about coffee, boy.
Thank you.
That razor's not as sharp as it was,
but it's yours.
Whiskers just grow right back again.
Well, we buried the Confederacy.
We've talked about everything
but what's really on our mind.
- Anybody talked about that yet?
- About what, Cass?
If you don't know, you ain't human.
The gold?
You're human.
What do you think we should do?
It ain't as if we stole it.
It came into our hands
as part of the war.
For me...
...I aim to take a share home with me.
Anybody got a better suggestion?
Egan, how do you feel about it?
Lt'd be hard to see the wrong
in keeping it when a few hours ago...
...there was no wrong in killing for it.
What else is there to do?
Give it back to the Union government?
They'd probably hang us.
Maybe. We'll probably get
strung up for thieves in any case.
Is that what you wanna do?
To give that stuff back?
That's what won the war, not courage
or being in the right. Just gold.
If the Union wants it back,
they'll have to fight us for it.
Keeping it for ourselves
is something else.
The South is still there,
maybe she could use it.
Not my share, major.
If the war is over, it's over,
and there ain't nothing that...
I'm coming home to you, Bessie,
this time for good.
No more wandering off,
I promise you.
I'll even go to church with you
this Sunday, like you always wanted.
We'll ride up fine.
All the folks will look at you
like you was Queen of the May.
- You'll be wearing...
- I've heard all I can take.
- I'd rather hear Walsh whistle.
- Another posse! Drop those flaps!
If I tap on the canvas,
come out shooting.
Morning, gentlemen. Morning!
- Got anything to drink in that cart?
- Sure thing.
Has that hogwash got any alky in it?
Open up, doc. Customers!
Why don't you give the good doctor
a chance to answer them questions?
I'll just borrow this, doc.
I lost my sombrero this morning.
- You'll buy it. It'll cost you $5.
- Hey, he's got a price for everything.
You're Doc Collings, ain't you?
That I am, sir. Who are you?
We're deputies, friend,
deputized fresh this morning.
And we gonna look you over.
Help yourself. Help yourself.
Give me a hand, Smitty.
You wouldn't be after the gang
that held up that gold shipment?
- How did you know about that, friend?
- You're about to miss the hanging.
They were bringing them in when
I came through Salt Flats.
Come on! Let's get out of here!
- That was too close.
- Yeah.
Major, what would've happened
if they'd looked in the back?
We'll have some rope to go with that
if we don't think fast.
They'll be back
looking for this wagon.
All right, pull them up.
Wrong coach, boys.
All I got is people.
You got some more people now.
How many in there?
Two. Man and a woman.
And one of them's very pretty.
- Travelling alone, miss?
- She's my fiance.
Jamie, get between them.
I reckon who you are now,
and I don't like it.
You don't have to like it, jehu.
- Did he have a gun?
- I was just fixing to look.
You got one too, miss?
Search her.
Looks like Army. Union Army.
- She was a nurse.
- Doesn't she ever talk?
Get on with it.
Well, she doesn't have a gun.
Come on, use that whip.
Drop it! Inside!
Why drag us into this?
At least let her go!
- Get them over there!
- Come on. You over here!
You too! Come on, over here!
Jamie, close that door!
Four of you cover the back!
Go on! Hey,
somebody get that coach!
Miss, he's got a bullet in him.
- How many out there?
- Five, I think.
Let's see if I can make it four.
If we have to kill to get out, we'll do it,
but I'll tell you when.
Check that back room.
How bad is it?
I can get the bullet out,
but not here on the floor.
I'm not hurt.
I was just scared.
Sure, you scare easily.
Hey, Quincey!
You might've killed him,
you knothead.
You mean I didn't?
Better hope that he's still alive
till I get a chance to talk to him.
Then you can do with him
as you mind to.
- Hey out there!
- Get him into the shed there.
Throw some water on him.
We're listening!
We've got two
coach passengers in here!
Give us our man,
we'll turn them loose!
All right, turn them loose!
Bring the man out
where I can see him!
Now, listen, who's giving the orders?
Man, we don't have to make no deals!
You can stay holed up in there
till Judgment Day. We can wait!
Finish tying them.
Got a bad shoulder, son.
Want my hands back
of me like hers...
...you'll have to break
a couple of bones first.
What'd they do with Cass, kill him?
I don't know. How many out there?
Three, maybe four.
They're up in the rocks.
The bleeding's stopped.
I'll need something to probe with.
- Will you get it, or shall I?
- Go ahead.
- I wanna tell you...
- I don't want any thanks.
I wouldn't help if I had a choice.
A nurse doesn't have one.
- I'm afraid I'll live.
- Good. We may need you.
You'll find the scissors
in the right side of that cupboard.
I'll take the gun.
What were you planning to do
with this against four of us?
We'll be gone before midnight...
...and there's no harm
intended toward any of you.
Try to remember that.
Seen anybody ride away
back the way we came, Jamie?
Nobody's rode off any direction.
I think they smell gold, Jamie.
- I'll need some help.
- There's a man in there.
He'll help you.
- Want me to douse him again?
- Don't drown him.
- We got plenty...
- All right, you win!
- You ready to come out?
- We're ready to give you the gold.
Isn't that what you're after?
You've got it with you?
We're not that crazy!
We left it back there!
Over a quarter million!
Let us go, and it's all yours!
We left it practically
on top of the ground!
Better send back for it,
or it won't be there!
It won't be where?
Make us a deal.
All right, you tell us where it's at...
...and there won't be nothing
left of us but dust.
- Now, you know that.
- Oh, no, I don't!
There's nothing we can do about it.
You either take that gamble
or you don't, one.
That's up to you.
Well, you taking that chance?
All right, I'll take it.
Did you find the wagon?
Sure did, and drank
some of that good elixir.
Take 30 paces from
the front of the wagon.
Then turn right 20 more.
The gold's there
with sand tossed over it.
We can go now, reb?
I didn't expect you
to take my word for it!
Send a man to look!
He can be back by morning!
Sure, we do just that!
Here's the bullet. He'll be whistling
that song again soon enough.
Tell me. What happens
when the man they send...
...comes back with the bad news?
We're still here! All of us!
And we're staying!
Does it surprise you to find
people who aren't like you?
They're doing what I counted on,
but what are we like? Go on, tell us.
She can't, and neither can I.
What is a man like
who'd shoot down a dozen men?
What men?
What men?
Nevada Volunteers,
the gold-train convoy.
How many dead?
Every last one.
Martha, maybe he...
He might've...
- Your son?
- Hers.
My grandson.
- It might make you feel better if...
- Get away from me.
I want you to hear this.
If your son is dead,
it's because he was a soldier.
If he was killed,
it was by another soldier.
Eight of us came up here
to Nevada six weeks ago.
The war was still going on then.
We'd been ordered to attack
a convoyed gold shipment.
We carried out those orders.
Over a dozen men were killed,
Union and Confederate soldiers.
It wasn't until afterward
we learned that...
That the war had ended.
Now, that's a tall one.
Being honest soldiers,
you left the gold...
...and reported to the nearest
Union Army post.
No, we decided to go home
and take the gold with us.
I wanted to tell you what happened
because I thought it might help you.
Nevada's full of you
Confederate deserters...
...and your lying excuses
for being what you are.
Martha, please, don't say no more.
My son wasn't the first.
You killed my husband too...
...at Gettysburg.
Don't pay her no mind.
Get the fire going now
with that coal oil!
- Hey, what happened to Maxwell?
- I don't know.
Maxwell. Maxwell!
- Somebody calling me?
- Come here.
Boys, let's get this straight.
Nobody's leaving here.
Go get the rest of the horses
and bring them here.
From now on, that's where they stay,
all of them.
And when we do leave here,
we're all leaving together.
He talks pretty big, don't he?
Think maybe that reb
was telling the truth?
All that gold lying back there
just waiting for some prune picker...
...to stumble over it?
- Maybe.
I wouldn't try riding off to find out
if I were you.
- Who said anything about riding off?
- I did.
- Hey, Quince!
- Yeah?
Come on, you're awake.
Wait a minute! Don't kick a man
when he's down. It ain't sporting.
Besides, he's gonna answer some
questions, nice and straight.
Now, we'll start with the gold.
Where's it at?
I said, where's the gold?
I don't remember. I'm all fogged up.
It's in the house there, ain't it?
- No, we left it behind.
- Where?
I don't know. I can't think.
It's no use. He's passed out again.
...you know why I told
them that, don't you?
That we were...
That I was your fiance?
I thought it would be safer
for you that way.
Maybe I was trying to push you
into making up your mind...
...the right way.
Jamie, let's try it again.
Rolph, go ahead.
Wrong again! Weren't nobody there!
We ain't in no hurry!
We can wait for you to come out!
The moon will be down
in a few minutes.
Can that rear door be opened
without too much noise?
It's always been quiet enough
to suit me.
I don't wanna put gags
in your mouths.
I won't, if you'll give me
your word you'll be quiet.
You can have our word,
my daughter's and mine.
You speak for yourself.
Anything I can do to see you...
...Southern butchers killed, I'll do it.
Jamie, come over here.
Come on, you leave that window
for a spell.
Take a good look
at a Southern butcher, ma'am.
He's never killed in his life.
But he watched Sherman's men
burn his farm down and kill his family.
He hid in a cane break
and saw his own...
Don't, Egan.
Leave her alone.
I spoke my piece.
Start getting ready.
A gag isn't a very
pleasant thing, ma'am.
If you're to go out weighted down
like mules, you won't get far.
You can have my word to keep silent.
We plan to avoid them, ma'am,
not outrun them.
Do I have your word?
You have it.
I'll give you my word
because I believe you.
You still don't know the war is over.
None of you know it,
or you'd have left that gold behind.
Oh, stop it, Molly. They've known
it was over since the day it ended.
We're going now, ma'am.
I wish there was something I...
What the major told you was true.
You've gotta believe that, ma'am.
Well, goodbye.
We'll get to the horses in the corral.
Hey, they've gone out the back way!
The back way!
We ain't as soft-horned
as you thought, are we?
We'll take care of him later.
- I'll count on that.
- Cover that window.
He's hurt bad.
We wanna get on home!
Come out with your hands up. We'll
take you to the sheriff in Carson City!
Yeah, in boxes!
- What'd you wanna say that for?
- Well...
Any cactus head would know they ain't
coming out till we go in and get them.
- You think so, huh?
- I know so.
I seen a nice, fat hay-rope
over in that corral.
How'd you like to go over and get it?
- Has he got a chance?
- I don't know.
We can keep him warm.
Hot compresses may
keep the infection down...
...but I can't get the bullets out.
Well, if he dies, there sits the reason.
What're you planning to do about it?
I didn't believe you, and I still don't.
- I did what I thought was right.
- Bring those rags here.
Gag him.
You ought to be grateful
I don't kill him.
He gave his word and broke it.
You like him for it?
I hope you mean it.
You've got to live with him.
Somebody's gotta be
in there with Egan.
She'll be in there.
Hey, reb!
We got a friend of yours out here!
Have a look!
Did you ever see
a hangman's knot before?
Well, have a good look!
You've got about a half a minute
to come out.
Your boy here says you
didn't know the war was over.
Well, here's your chance
to come out and prove it.
Got 20 seconds,
then I'm gonna pot that horse!
- Stay in there!
- Wait!
Give us a half-minute to talk it over.
All right.
- Any dynamite left in your pouch?
- One or two sticks.
When I throw the first one, cover me.
I told you we should have
burned them out!
- Yeah, I guess you were right.
- It's smarter if you do it my way.
I've been in there,
I know what I'm talking about.
Here you are.
I was hoping there'd be
some of them around here.
- I thought we'd give them to them.
- Well, go ahead.
Can't you tell when
a man's joking, boy?
After you clean up,
you and Jamie get some sleep.
You can relieve Rolph
and me in a few hours.
Yes, sir.
I guess I don't have to tell you that...
...them ain't deputies out there.
Just a bunch of drifters.
Do they know the gold's in here?
You got them confused.
If they ever find out, though,
and get their hands on it...
...there ain't gonna be nobody left
alive in here to tell.
You got any plans?
We go out shooting
sometime tomorrow.
Wish I hadn't asked.
We'll tunnel under here.
No! It's gotta be quiet.
Can I get you something?
Coffee? Something to eat?
It ain't no use, son.
There ain't nothing you nor
anybody else can do for her.
- I thought maybe if she...
- I know how you feel...
...but this ain't anything new
with Martha.
When her man was killed,
her boy joined up.
He never come home again.
And she's made herself
old and miserable...
...and sick with hating ever since.
I've learned to leave her be.
She's still gotta eat, and so do you.
It'd be simpler if you'd just
let me fix it, son.
You know, you don't look
much like a cook to me.
- Well, I don't know about...
- Look, son...
...that story your major tells
is pretty hard to get down.
But I reckon you've got your right
to try and prove it...
...which you won't get from that
gang of cutbacks out there.
So last night, I decided to be
neutral in this hickboo.
Meantime, I'm powerful hungry.
- Well, I'd like to untie you, but...
- Untie him, Jamie.
- Well, I'm much obliged to you.
- Don't mention it.
- You didn't ask for my word.
- Didn't I?
Well, you've got it,
and if you want proof...
...I keep a gun right
beneath this table.
And I could have got it
anytime last night.
You mean...
...this one?
Buckwheats and coffee on the way.
Jamie, ungag him
and give him some water.
I'd like to let you free too.
It's up to you.
I'll stay as I am.
He's out of his head.
They've got enough wood
to light us up all month.
We've gotta leave in broad daylight.
It might as well be today.
The longer we're here,
the more danger to them.
We'll start out this rear door
to draw them away from the front.
Then cut back inside
and go out that door.
We take that shed,
we'll have a chance.
- The horses are behind it.
- Sounds like sure death to me.
Probably. Is there any other way?
All right, that's it.
We'll eat, wait an hour, and go.
Get your guns ready.
Jamie, give our friend here
a fresh gag.
Wait a minute. I wanna talk to you.
As long as we're here,
you'll be kept gagged and tied.
It's got nothing to do with that.
This is important for you.
Calm down. She's asleep.
What's on your mind?
You're planning to shoot your way
out of here sometime today.
Well, if you do, your lives won't be
worth a Confederate dollar.
Now, watch your talk there, boy.
You'll give us a better way,
for a price?
That's right.
How much would
two of those bars weigh?
- About 50 pounds.
- That's over $20,000.
See my coat over there?
It's got two inside pockets.
Put one bar in each pocket.
Now, when I leave here, no one
has to know there's anything in it.
No one at all.
If you can show us a way out
of here alive, you'll get your price.
No one's to know, now or later.
You have our word. Now, hurry it up.
Untie my hands.
I have something to give you.
In my pocket.
I'm a beef contractor.
I know this country like a book.
Paiute Indians live in these hills
not 10 miles from here.
Their chief gave me that.
Show that to them.
Tell them you're from Lee Kemper.
The Indians were hostile
all during the war.
- How were you so friendly?
- My job was to buy beef.
The Army didn't ask where I got it.
I didn't ask the Indians.
Give them that. You'll get horses,
a guide, the food and water you need.
You'll be in Texas before you know it.
What's the matter?
We're in here, cutthroats out there,
you're just wasting our time.
Oh, I'm not through yet.
Sometime today or tonight,
this pass will be hit by a flash storm.
Rain so thick you can't see 10 feet.
- Does that interest you?
- I was told this was the dry season.
It is. The rain will only last
about 10 minutes.
Look out that window.
Those clouds only mean one thing
to a Nevadan.
Ask the old man there.
He'll tell you I'm right.
What's the matter?
Something bothering you?
Here's where you get a dose
of your own Yankee medicine.
Miss? Why don't you ask your friend
here what's in his coat over there.
- What does he mean?
- That's what I'd like to know.
Oh, he's just trying
to start something.
Just a minute.
There's some gold in that coat.
I had it put there.
- Why?
- To carry it.
I planned to take the coat.
- Is this true, Lee?
- I suppose so.
How should I know?
What did you do for it, Lee?
Are you going to let this crazy fool...?
Molly. Molly, listen to me.
You didn't change,
I just never knew you.
He had it coming.
Yes. You said that
about Peterson too.
I made my deal with you,
it's up to you to keep it.
Tell her he was lying,
and make this crazy fool back you up.
Did you come in here
to salvage a bargain?
Yes, that's about it.
I owed it to him.
He gave us back our lives.
He also got over $20,000.
Most women would be pretty happy
with a windfall like that.
Your Southern ladies?
I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry.
Please go now.
You've made your effort.
It's not your fault it didn't succeed.
I'm afraid I'm not even sorry.
Maybe it'll turn out we did you a favour,
bringing the two of you in here.
You've done nothing for me at all.
You never retreat an inch, do you?
Yes, whenever I'm wrong.
- But I hadn't any plans to marry...
- Nora?
Good, good. Take it real slow now,
or they'll hear it sure.
- A little early, ain't you?
- I couldn't sleep.
I'll take over.
How is he?
If he pulls through,
it'll be your doing.
Don't come near me.
I only wanna talk to you.
I never done you any harm.
Why are you afraid of me?
We're not outlaws, we're soldiers.
I was an officer.
I wanna talk to you, ma'am,
and I intend doing it.
Nobody's gonna hurt you.
Just hold quiet.
No one's gonna do you any harm.
I've had enough.
If there's anything more from you,
I'll kill you.
You understand? I'll kill you.
Cass, give him his gun back.
He ought to have it
took away from him.
Why, I think he'd as lief
shoot you in the back as spit.
Give it to him.
You and Jamie take your two hours.
Cover that window.
I've spent the past couple of hours
trying to figure how to...
- To tell you why we...
- I'm all right.
You've no need to apologize.
The apology was for myself,
and not Rolph.
You were a soldier.
You had every right
to try to get home alive.
- Maybe I'd better learn to knock.
- Come in, Cass.
Who'd you like to try next? Jamie?
Major! We're gonna need his gun
to get out of here.
Get out.
Leave it alone, Rolph!
Drop it, Rolph. Drop it!
He tried to kill you.
Look out!
You took a big chance there.
Well, when I had that noose
around my neck out there...
...I sort of give myself up for dead.
Guess I ain't over it yet.
- We're gonna burn them out!
- Yeah.
Start filling that wood!
That ought to hold it down.
Where's that storm we paid you for?
I've been wondering
when they'd do that.
- Jamie, get some buckets.
- I'll get you some.
I concluded not to be neutral,
if it's okay with you.
Fine with me.
Jamie, help me with this.
We've gotta get rid of some gold.
If they don't find it, you'll be safe.
Don't worry. Nobody's gonna touch it.
It's going back where it come from.
Cass, untie him.
You so much as bat an eye,
I'll shoot it right out of your head.
Come on, get over there.
You can't stay here, ma'am.
You gotta get over there by the door.
Look out, major!
He's dead.
Aren't you going to let us
out of here?
If we can stay it out, we will. If not,
I'll get you out in time. All of you.
Well, at least untie my hands.
Cass, help me with Egan.
Don't shoot!
They were holding me in there!
All right, we go now,
out the back window.
Wait. We gotta scatter their horses,
or we won't have a chance.
You won't have a chance of doing that,
either. Come on, get ready.
We'll be gone in a minute.
- I don't want this to end here.
- But it will.
No matter how you got that gold,
if you take it, you're an outlaw.
I know, but I intend to get it home.
Then I'm coming north to find you.
Then don't take it. Don't go on
fighting a war that's already over.
Where will I find you?
You'd better go.
These storms last only a few minutes.
- You've got to...
- Major.
Cass, he's gone.
- Over there!
- Get going!
Check that room in there.
All right, where is it?
If you mean gold,
they didn't have none with them.
Fletch! Who's over there?
Hey, Smitty!
- Smitty!
- Take it easy. I'm over here.
Where are you guys?
Let's go!
Maybe we won't have to!
Nothing in there.
You was in that coach, wasn't you?
- Yes, I was.
- Then where's the gold?
Probably right where
they said it was.
They didn't have it with them.
She's telling the truth. Let's go.
All right, let's go.
How many you got left?
You heard me.
Where did the rest of you go?
Take a look!
Come on, you can take us! There must
be three of you left, maybe four.
Let's go.
They'll get that gold before us.
They must have been
telling the truth.
Quince! Hey, Quincey!
Shut up! Do you want everybody
after that gold?
Hey, Quincey!
Come on.
You dirty, double-cross...
Whoa. Whoa.
Whoa, boy. Whoa, boy. Whoa.
Stop! Whoa!
Hurry up, Pa,
they might come back.
I guess you were right, Molly.
The war is over.
They're coach horses, son.
We got no saddles.
Don't need one. You'll find two more
gold bags over there.
- Better put them with the rest.
- Now that you ain't rich no more...
...maybe you'd consider
coming back this way.
- Coming back?
- Nobody knows you here.
You could come back
in a few months.
And the land's good.
Over 300 acres of it.
- Well, I...
- I'd... I'd share it with you.
And there's some
mighty good hunting too.
If you'd...
...like to come back...
...you'd be welcome, son.
I'm obliged to you, ma'am.
I'd like to come back.
Don't worry about us, Molly.
This Indian token
is our passage home.