On Desert Sands was one of the first efforts from Universal's Big U division, a subsidiary set up exclusively for the production of Westerns. Orphaned in the desert, a little girl is rescued by the cowboy hero. While bringing the girl back to civilization, the cowpoke falls asleep, whereupon the girl wanders into the grubby hands of a drunken mule-skinner. Fifteen years later, the grown-up girl is the sole support of her shiftless foster father. When the old reprobate loses his life savings at a card game, he puts up his "daughter" as collateral. Re-enter the hero, who saves the girl from a lascivious gambler by "buying" her himself. Recognizing the heroine as the same girl he rescued 15 years earlier, the cowboy offers to re-adopt her, paving the way for a happy ending -- and the possibility of a romantic "happily ever after."
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