Ride a Crooked Trail

Stars Audie Murphy, Gia Scala, and Walter Matthau!

When bank robber, Joe Maybe comes to town to plan his next hit, he is mistaken for a U.S. Marshal, and appointed sheriff by a gruff judge. Then a woman who knows his real identity arrives, followed by a rival outlaw, intent on robbing the same bank. Will Joe be exposed and stick to his original plan, or change his outlaw ways?

Ride a Crooked Trail

Stars Audie Murphy, Gia Scala, and Walter Matthau!

After a botched robbery attempt, wanted bank robber, Joe Maybe arrives in the river town of Webb City to scope out his next “job.” Having been warned that the outlaw was heading his way, gruff Judge Kyle, who demands proof of identity for any newcomers entering town, is sure the baby-faced man who rides in, is Joe Maybe. But there’s one problem. Joe is wearing a U.S. Marshal’s badge, and not just any badge, the one with a particular flaw owned by the legendary Marshal Jim Noonan, known for his heroism and bravery. Turns out Noonan died accidentally while tailing Joe, and when Joe went to check Noonan’s body, he took the badge.

Now, Kyle changes his tune and welcomes Joe with open arms, and offers to buy him a drink. Joe is uncomfortable pretending to be a lawman and would sooner skip town, but Judge Kyle convinces him to hang around, even offers him a position as town sheriff. Now, Joe is in an ironic and unique position. As an insider, he can easily assess the situation with the bank and make his move when the time is right. But Joe’s life is about to get very complicated.

When a Creole woman from New Orleans, Tessa Milotte, disembarks the riverboat and sees Joe, she calls him by name, “Maybe,” right in front of Judge Kyle. Thinking on his feet, Joe tells the judge, she said “baby,” and introduces her as his wife, and embellishes the story, saying she was just meeting him in Webb City and they needed to be on their way. But one doesn’t argue with Judge Kyle, so the “happy couple” follow as Kyle leads them to their new home in town.

Once alone, Tessa explains she’s there as part of a business arrangement, to case the bank for Sam Teeler, a notorious outlaw and Joe’s biggest rival. As if Joe’s situation couldn’t get more muddled, the women in town convince Kyle to bring young orphan, Jimmy to live with Joe and Tessa, so he can have a “real” family. Kyle had been his caretaker. Soon Joe bonds with Jimmy, and Tessa and Joe’s pretend love starts to become less of a sham.

Just as Joe is giving a speech welcoming the railroad to Webb City, Sam rides in with his gang of outlaws. When Joe learns of Sam’s plans, he faces a life-changing decision: Work with Sam on several lucrative heists? Or live up to the stolen badge he wears?