At the Carleton, Paladin finishes playing poker with some associates at 5 am. He returns to the room and confirms that the last remaining player, Leadhead Kane, was bluffing. The elderly Leadhead asks for a cigar despite his doctor’s orders, and figures that he’s done since he found a silver mine. He plans to go over to the music hall and see Mlle. Annette Vargas, the singer. Leadhead shows Paladin a playbill of her, but figures that Annette wouldn’t have stopped to look at someone like him even though she’s living at the Carleton.
Later, Annette receives an invitation to dinner with Leadhead. She meets with him at the Carleton, and Paladin suggests that she have another drink of wine. Leadhead explains that his name comes from when he came back to town and made a big strike. It turned out to be lead, and they nicknamed him “Leadhead.” Annette is enchanted with him, and says that she wants to see him again. Before she goes, Leadhead asks her to sign a picture as a memento. She gives him her locket instead and kisses him on the cheek, and Paladin sees her to her room.
The next morning, Hey Boy tells Paladin that he found Leadhead dead in his room. The doctor confirms that Leadhead died of natural causes, and Paladin says that he’ll make arrangements. Hey Boy has one of two letters for Paladin. The hotel boy mailed one of them, and the one for Paladin is a will that Hey Boy witnessed. Paladin takes it to Annette’s music room, and she realizes that Leadhead left her his share of the Rimrock Mine, worth $250,000.
As Paladin leaves, Leadhead’s partner Vance Crawford arrive sat the dressing room. He introduces himself to Annette and explains that Leadhead sent him the second letter, informing him that Annette was receiving Leadhead’s share of the mine. He offers her $1,000 for the will, saying that it will never stand up in court under the circumstances. Vance insinuates that she seduced Leadhead into signing over his share of the mine, and Annette angrily dismisses Vance. He says that the judge will settle the estate in a week when he arrives in Rimrock, and she doesn’t have a chance of collecting. Furious, Annette shoves him out.
After her performance, Annette tells Paladin what happens and insists that she’s not going to let Vance get back Leadhead’s share. Paladin offers his card and his assistance, and Annette accepts.
Six days later, Paladin and Annette arrive at the Rimrock Hotel by stagecoach. Paladin wants to rent a buckboard to go out to the mine and post her partnership notice, per the law. Vance is nearby and tells his flunky, Jess Hagen, that he doesn’t want Annette in court. Meanwhile, Annette checks in and Jess starts harassing her. He refuses to let her pass, and Annette beats him off. Paladin arrives and tosses Jess out, and Paladin outdraws him when Jess goes for his gun. Chuckling, Paladin sees Vance watching and figures that he was expecting them. Once Paladin goes inside, Vance tells Jess to intercept Paladin and Annette as they go to post the notice.
Later at the mine, Paladin posts the notice for Annette and they notice that there are no workers there. Paladin spots Jess and his men up the hill and gets Annette to cover as they open fire with rifles. Paladin sends Annette into the mine and realizes that their attackers are out of his revolver’s range. He calls to Jess to come in after them, and Jess calls back that he’s in no hurry.
As night falls, Paladin checks the mine and confirms that there is no way out. Paladin tells Annette that Jess is stalling them so that they can’t get to court to the will. The singer suggests that they sneak out, but Paladin points out that they have no horses and Jess would soon catch up to them. Jess fires at Paladin’s shadow on the wall, and Paladin suggests that they can make their attackers think that they’re still there.
A short time later, Jess sees Paladin’s shadow moving and fires. Paladin comes up behind him and tells him at gunpoint to go into Rimrock and get some dynamite to blow Paladin and Annette out. Jess has no choice but to call out the instructions, and Paladin pistol-whips him once his men leave. Paladin then ties Jess up and puts his hat on him, and sets him up by the lantern so his shadow looks like Paladin’s.
The next day at the saloon, Judge Howell brings his court to business. Vance claims that he’s the only interested party... just as Paladin comes in and shows Howell the will. When Vance dismisses it as a fraud, Paladin insists that it’s a holographic will and many of the people there can recognize Leadhead’s handwriting. Vance insists that Annette tricked Leadhead into signing over the mine. He says that Annette is a cheap entertainer, and Howell agrees with him.
Paladin speaks up and offers to address a jury. Howell points out that it’s not a criminal case, but Paladin notes that if Vance’s charges are true then he and Annette are extortionists. Vance and Howell both warn that Paladin and Annette will go to jail if the jury finds against them, and Paladin agrees. He agrees to take any six men and settles for four, picking four older men out of the crowd. Paladin addresses the jury and says that he can see that they’re all like Leadhead: lonely for companionship and too old to find it. He explains that Leadhead found Annette and ushers her in. Paladin tells the jurors to imagine themselves in Leadhead’s place, and explains how Leadhead left his estate to Annette in appreciation for what she did.
The jurors all agree they would have done the same thing. Howell insists that it wasn’t a legal jury and prepares to deliver his own verdict, but Paladin points out that he was willing to find Paladin and Annette guilty on the basis of a four-man jury. The witnesses agree and Howell declares the will proper and valid.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 12, 2015