Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tonight's Movie: The Texas Rangers (1951)

THE TEXAS RANGERS (1951) is a very enjoyable George Montgomery Western, and one only needs to look at the supporting cast to understand why: In addition to leading lady Gale Storm, the cast includes Western stalwarts such as Noah Beery Jr., John Dehner, Douglas Kennedy, Jock Mahoney, William Bishop, John Litel, and Jerome Courtland. It would be hard not to have a good time with a cast like that!

Montgomery and Beery play Johnny and Buff, a pair of outlaws riding with Sam Bass (Bishop), John Wesley Hardin (Dehner), Dave Rudabaugh (Kennedy), Butch Cassidy (John Doucette), and the Sundance Kid (Ian MacDonald). Sundance betrays Johnny and Buff, who are arrested and sent to prison.

Johnny's former commanding officer in the Civil War, Major Jones (Litel), is now a Texas Ranger, and he offers Johnny and Buff a deal: swear an oath to the Texas Rangers and work for him rounding up the rest of the outlaw gang in return for a pardon. They are happy to comply, as the prison is brutal, and as it turns out, Johnny's kid brother (Courtland) is a Ranger too.

The path to redemption doesn't always go smoothly, and Johnny considers fleeing the Rangers and Texas at one point, but then circumstances strengthen his resolve to see the job through and stay on the straight and narrow. It doesn't hurt that he's attracted to a feisty newspaper publisher (Storm).

Montgomery and Storm have excellent love-hate chemistry, and I only wish they had had more scenes together. There's a terrific sequence where Montgomery is being watched by the outlaws and needs to find a way to get an emergency message to the Rangers; as the gang watches from the street, Montgomery trashes the newspaper office while telling her what she needs to do to help him.

Montgomery gives a performance of some depth, portraying a man who came home from the war and found his family dead and home gone; he's believable as a man who could go either way, bad or good.

THE TEXAS RANGERS was directed by Phil Karlson. It was filmed by Ellis Carter in SuperCinecolor. The movie was shot at Southern California movie ranches, with the climactic train sequence shot near Jamestown, California.

THE TEXAS RANGERS has no relationship to the 1936 Fred MacMurray film of the same name, although the films each have the same basic premise, in which a pair of outlaws sign on with the Texas Rangers.

This Columbia film is a tough one to track down. I grabbed a copy when it was on YouTube a few months ago but it's no longer available online. Hopefully it will be out at some point in the Sony/Columbia MOD program. I'd certainly be happy to purchase a good print of this title.

4 Comments:

Blogger Jerry E said...

Hi Laura
I recently acquired a copy of this movie but have not yet watched it. I understand it is a perfect print copy (fingers crossed) and will gladly let you know the results, and if good, the source, if you would like.
Regards,
Jerry

8:51 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jerry, I'd love to know what you think of both the film and the print -- would love to know the source if it's a good one. :) This is one I'll definitely enjoy rewatching in the future. Thank you!

I just noted that Boyd Magers gives this title 4 stars at Western Clippings. I don't always agree with his ratings -- I think he underrates some -- but was glad to see more appreciation for this enjoyable film.

Best wishes,
Laura

9:15 AM  
Blogger john knight said...

Hi Laura,

This is one of my fave Montgomery Westerns.
It also has one of my all time fave one liners:
William Bishop ( as Sam Bass)
"Hot tub sure is a fine thing;I take one ever month,
if I need one or not!"
"Ever" is NOT a typo BTW.
I had a so-so copy of this film some time ago;someone sent
me a lovely upgrade recently.
I would certainly buy the Sony MOD should it finally
appear.
The Columbia Fifties Western that I just cannot locate
a good copy of is STAGE TO TUSCON,such a great little
Western.
BTW many thanks for pointing me towards Blake on the
SEVEN MEN FROM NOW extras,great to put a "face" to the
name.

6:13 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

So glad to know you like this one too, John! It was a lot of fun.

Good luck finding STAGE TO TUCSON! I'm happy to report a kind friend has located SAN ANTONE for me, a film you recently mentioned, so I hope to watch and review that one in the weeks ahead.

Glad I mentioned Blake's appearance on the SEVEN MEN FROM NOW disc! It's been fun having the chance to share enjoying a few movies at L.A. theaters with Blake and his wife. We figured out we were doubtless at some of the same screenings at the L.A. County Museum of Art which I attended with my parents in the '70s or early '80s -- I still have some of the program notes from those screenings, which turned out to have been written by Blake. Small world!!

Best wishes,
Laura

3:47 PM  

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