Smiling Bill Flannigan (William Desmond), a once-renowned prizefighter, escapes West after accidentally killing an opponent in the ring in this muscular Universal western. The ex-boxer obtains the job of ranch cook and gets involved with the ubiquitous war between ranchers and sheep men. Hailing from Scotland and out of a long line of entertainers, brawny Desmond began his 25-year screen career playing the parson opposite stage star Cyril Maude in Peer Gynt (1915). A heavily dramatic beginning for an actor who would later star in robust serials such as Perils of the Yukon (1922), The Riddle Rider and The Vanishing Rider (1928), all for Universal. Desmond's leading lady in The Burning Trail, Mary McIvor, was also his off-screen wife.
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