Action / Drama / Romance
Directed by Lewis Seiler
Marlene Dietrich as Josie 'Hunky' Winters
Randolph Scott as Cash Evans
John Wayne as Charles 'Pittsburgh' Markham [also known as 'Charles Ellis']
Frank Craven as 'Doc' Powers
Louise Allbritton as Shannon Prentiss
Shemp Howard as Shorty
Thomas Gomez as Joe Malneck
Ludwig Stossel as Dr. Grazlich
Samuel S. Hinds as Morgan Prentiss
Paul Fix as Mine operator
William Haade as Johnny
After drinking at their friend Doc’s house, two rowdy coal miners, Cash Evans and Charles ‘Pittsburgh’ Markham, go out on the town. They find a theater promising $500 to anyone willing to stand in the ring for three minutes with the reigning champ, Killer Kane. On their way in they meet the lovely Josie Winters, who agrees to accompany them. Pittsburgh convinces Cash to take the challenge, and not only spends 3 minutes, but knocks Killer Kane out. A brawl ensues when the promoter tries to sneak out without paying the prize money. Things calm down quickly when word of a cave in at the coal mine reaches the theater, and people rush to help. To make matters worse, Cash and Pittsburgh discover that Doc was working in the mine when it collapsed. Pittsburgh and Cash go into the mine to help rescue, and as a result, Pittsburgh is almost killed in the attempt. They save Doc and other miners and Pittsburgh and Cash are considered heroes. Later Josie confides in Pittsburgh that she worked in the mines as a child and that her father was killed by a cave in as well.
Pittsburgh is always talking about being a big-shot someday, and Josie, after hearing it enough times, challenges him to do something to prove it. Pittsburgh talks Cash into quitting their mining jobs and they make a meeting with Morgan Prentiss who owns Prentiss steel. They offer to sell Morgan coal for three dollars a ton less than what he is currently paying. Morgan agrees, if they can provide $250,000 dollars as collateral. Between them, Cash and Pittsburgh have barely four dollars to their names, but they forge Morgan’s signature on the contract and take it to the bank, where they convince the bank to loan them the money. Pittsburgh and Cash bring Doc and Josie in as partners, and soon are a great success. Pittsburgh is riding high on life and soon success changes him. He forgets his promises to the workers that made him successful and begins courting Morgan’s daughter Shannon. As Pittsburgh gets drawn into the high society life of the Prentisses he forgets his friends. The situation comes to a head when Pittsburgh fails to show at a birthday party Josie, Doc, and Cash throw for him because he was with Shannon instead. Josie finally confesses that she loved Pittsburgh, but doesn’t anymore and they are finished. Cash also informs him that he has always loved Josie, but stayed out of the way because she loved Pittsburgh. Now that has changed, and he will be courting Josie. Shannon and Pittsburgh are set to be married, but on the eve of their wedding, Pittsburgh goes to see Josie, and confess his love to her. She rejects him and he goes ahead with the wedding, although his is bitter and angry inside.
In the time that passes, Pittsburgh makes a successful, although ruthless, business man, but a very poor husband to Shannon. At a dinner party Pittsburgh makes it known to all that he doesn’t love his wife, but loves Josie, and Shannon asks for a divorce. Pittsburgh refuses her and Shannon’s father, Morgan prepares to make good on his promise to ruin Pittsburgh if he ever hurt her. Pittsburgh further alienates his friends by announcing his plans to close Doc’s laboratory. Cash quits the company and sells his shares to Pittsburgh. Cash and Pittsburgh prepare to go down into the mines and settle this the old fashioned way, with a fistfight. Josie falls and is seriously injured trying to stop them and is rushed to the hospital. In the hospital, Cash finally tells Pittsburgh everything on his mind, and tells him that Cash, Josie and Doc never want to see him again. Pittsburgh tries to go home to Shannon to make amends, but she spurns him, and her father has done his part, bankrupting Pittsburgh. Broken, divorced, friendless and penniless, Pittsburgh is forced to take a job on the ground floor of a steel mill using the name Charles Evans. Regardless of everything, Pittsburgh is a good worker and efficient manager and is quickly recommended to the boss for a promotion. The boss of the factory turns out to be none other than Cash. Seeing Pittsburgh reopens wounds for Cash and he tears into Pittsburgh, until Josie stops him. World War II has just broken out, and the country needs enterprising entrepreneurs like Cash and Pittsburgh. They agree to work together again, and found Markham and Evans Industries.
Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott and John Wayne also made the film " The Spoilers " later in 1942. Scott was billed above John Wayne, even though Wayne’s roles were more important in both films. Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott and John Wayne reprised their roles from the film for a 30 minute radio adaptation produced by The Screen Guild Theater in 1943.
Shemp Howard of The Three Stooges fame makes a rare appearance in a dramatic role in the film.
The original version of the script had some problems passing the censors because they felt that Josie was Pittsburgh’s “mistress” while he was married to Shannon. This was rectified in the finished film by having Josie spurn Pittsburgh’s advances.