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Film / Coroner Creek

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Coroner Creek is a 1948 American Western film directed by Ray Enright and starring Randolph Scott and Marguerite Chapman. It was based on the novel of the same name by Luke Short.

With the help of Kate Hardison, the Coroner Creek hotel keeper, gunslinger Chris Danning learns that Younger Miles is the man who killed his fiancée. Chris is hired by rancher Della Harms as her foreman, and plots his revenge against Miles. But one of the Miles' henchmen cripples Chris' trigger-hand.


  • Accidental Aiming Skills: During the shootout in the freight station, Kate picks up Ernie's dropped gun. Obviously never having fired a gun in her life, she closes her eyes and turns her head away when she pulls the trigger. Her shot misses Stu, but hits a block-and-tackle which breaks and drops a load of tack on top of him, knocking him to the floor.
  • The Alcoholic: Sheriff O'Hea is rarely seen sober and only holds his job because of Younger Miles' influence. His daughter Abbie is a Lady Drunk.
  • Alliterative Title: Coroner Creek
  • Animal Stampede: Miles starts a fire to stampede the Box H cattle to their death in a box canyon.
  • Army Scout: It is an old army scout who gives Chris the first lead he has had on his fiancee's killer: taking him to meet the Apache who was the sole survivor of Miles' double-cross.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Ernie and his thugs are laying a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Chris, when Comic Relief character Andy West (whom they had driven off earlier) returns, having retrieved Chris's gun. They just laugh and sneer at him, knowing that Andy never carries a gun. The laughter stops suddenly when Andy puts a bullet into the post right next to Ernie's head.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Chris uses Younger Miles' henchman Stu as a human shield when he storms Miles in the town hall. Miles cements his Bad Boss status by shooting at Chris through Stu.
  • Crippling the Competition: In an attempt to drive Chris out of town, Ernie has his thugs hold Chris while he beats him into unconsciousness. He then lays Chris's gun hand on a log and stomps on it, breaking it.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Zigzagged in the brawl between Chris and Ernie. Chris at first swiftly overpowers Ernie, until the latter's thugs restrain him, allowing Ernie to easily beat him down. After an armed Andy shoos the others away, Ernie is forced to fight fair again. Chris once again knocks out Ernie, though due to his injuries, Ernie is able to put up a much tougher fight before finally going down.
  • Death by Irony: While trying to escape from Chris, Younger Miles falls off a ladder and dies when he lands on the same knife that Chris's fiancee used to commit suicide after he raped her.
  • The Dragon: Ernie Combs is the right-hand man of the Big Bad Miles Younger: the head of his crew of hired guns, and the one who does most of his dirty work.
  • Driven to Suicide: Chris's fiancee was abducted off the stage by Younger Miles and held prisoner by him for three days (and illicitly raped). She stole a knife off him and killed herself.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Invoked but not actually used. Chris gets Frank Yordy to spill the beans by threatening him with a skillet full of hot grease.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: When Della walks in on Andy in his longjohns, he hurried pulls a poncho on over the top of them.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: After Tip repeats Chris's comment about the Indians to Miles in the saloon, Miles smashes his brandy glass and slashes Tip's face with it.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Coroner Creek is not the most inviting of town names.
  • I Own This Town: Miles Younger uses the money he stole in the stagecoach robbery to become the major power in Coroner Creek.
  • Killed Offscreen: Andy is gunned down by Ernie and his thugs offscreen.
  • Lady Drunk: Younger Miles wife Abbie is an alcoholic, like her father The Sheriff. Younger spends a lot of time and money trying to keep this secret from the town.
  • Leave No Witnesses: In the stagecoach robbery at the start of the film, Miles Younger kills the driver, guard and all of the male passengers. He later kills all of the Indians who aided him in the robbery.
  • Man Bites Man: During the fight between Chris and Ernie after Ernie has broken Chris's gun hand, Ernie throws a punch at Chris which Chris catches with his good hand, and then bites Ernie's arm.
  • Neat Freak: Rancher Della Harms says that she likes things neat and orderly and has her cowhands doing things like planting flowerbeds and painting furniture, much to the bewilderment of her new foreman.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: After robbing the stage, Miles murders all of his Indian henchmen, as part of his Leave No Witnesses strategy.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Della Harms is a woman from Kansas City who married a local Rancher and then inherited the ranch when he died. She still dresses and acts like a city girl, causing many locals to assume she is The Ditz, but she is actually a very canny businesswoman, and knows immediately that Chris Danning is the man she needs to help her stand up to Younger Miles.
  • The Place
  • Poor Communication Kills: If Chris had told Leach that he suspected Miles planning to start a fire at the box canyon, rather than just telling him to 'keep watch', they could have avoided the Animal Stampede that killed most of Della's herd.
  • Rancher: Della Harms is a widow who is determined that will not be driven off the ranch her husband left her by her neighbour Younger Miles. Although she gives the impression of being The Ditz, she is actually much tougher and wilier than most people give her credit for.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Sheriff O'Hea decides that he is no longer going to be in Younger Miles' pocket after he sees Miles strike his wife Abbie, who is O'Hea's daughter. Miles threatens his job, and O'Hea acknowledges Miles can probably get him thrown out of office at the next election but, until then, he is upholding the law as he sees fit. Miles murders him after he arrests two of Miles' hired guns for Andy's murder and insists on holding them to stand trial.
  • The Sheriff: Sheriff O'Hea is an alcoholic who holds his job because his daughter Abbie is married to Younger Miles, the powerful man in the town. He is regarded as a joke by the locals, who are astounded when he actually has someone in his cells for the first time anyone can remember. However, after he sees Younger hit Della, he sobers up and decides to start enforcing the law properly, even if it means standing up to Younger. This decision gets him killed.
  • Trophy Wife: Abbie Miles knows that she is this: bitterly telling her husband Younger that she knows he only married her because she was beautiful and refined enough to be an ornament to his newfound wealth. For her part, she mostly married him because he could secure her father's position as sheriff.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Big Bad Younger Miles slaps his wife Della: an act witnessed her father who is The Sheriff. This turns the sheriff against Miles, which drives another nail into Miles' coffin.