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The Stand at Paxton County


As much as this little B drama may seem plot hackneyed, the message about the threat to our freedom is loud and clear.

The Stand at Paxton County.

Netflix has a little drama, The Stand at Paxton County, that can be neglected for its hackneyed plot but not ignored for the real-life application of a new law opening ranches in the NW to exploitation and old-fashioned rustling.

The new Title allows a neighboring rancher or farmer to claim neglect and, with a vet’s nod, send the sheriff to confiscate the animals. This thriller depicts the consequences for an accused rancher. As mystery, the film is pretty pedestrian; as a wakeup call for ranchers, farmers, and those sympathetic to their struggles, it succeeds getting attention, if only to point out how property rights can be endangered, and, of course, basic freedom.

Army medic Janna Connelly (Jacqueline Toboni), on leave to visit her ailing N Dakota dad, Dell (Michael O’Neill), finds some local authorities are harassing ranchers with the new legislation, to the point of one rancher committing suicide. Because she is a trained medic, she researches the problem and pursues a solution. The problem involves bad hombres trying legally to benefit from seizing livestock, and good people hamstrung by the new law.

While the plot is boilerplate thriller, the insight into the downside of such a statute is eye-opening if not sensational. The plot takes sinister turns including poisoning and murder. In N Dakota? Yep, just ask the Fargo folks. This place can’t get a break, and as  remote as the state is, we have an abiding interest in its extracurricular mayhem.

Although nothing in the plot can be considered remotely new, except for the legal boondoggle that propels it, a little bell of awareness rings about our fellow Americans’ ability to encroach on our freedoms by pursuing our property by legal means. That’s the rub of this thriller: seemingly good people turn bad when money and property rule.

See The Stand at Paxton County: you’ll learn something about N. Dakota, the wild West, and the vulnerability livestock owners face every day.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, is host of WCBE's programs It's Movie Time and Cinema Classics, and the podcasts Back Talk and Double Take. Contact him at johndesando52@gmail.com.