Friday, September 21, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Lone Star (1952) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Clark Gable and Ava Gardner star in LONE STAR (1952), a drama about Texas statehood. It's available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

LONE STAR is a movie I watched multiple times growing up; since it was an MGM film I believe that would have been on KTTV Ch. 11 out of Los Angeles, to be exact. It wasn't a particularly exciting film -- and being chock full of commercials back then didn't help any -- but I loved watching handsome Gable romancing the beautiful Gardner and turned it on every time it aired. Even the somewhat older 1952 version of Clark Gable still held -- and holds -- appeal for me.

I hadn't seen LONE STAR in many years so I was glad to have the opportunity to revisit it via the Warner Archive's very nice remastered print, initially released several years ago. I was curious how I'd find it, and the answer is pretty much the same: It's kind of a humdrum movie but I still love watching Gable and Gardner. At least now I can enjoy them in a good-looking print, without putting up with a 94-minute movie being edited to also fit lots of Tarn-X commercials into a two-hour time slot!

Gable plays Devereaux Burke, who's recruited by Andrew Jackson (Lionel Barrymore) to convince Sam Houston (Moroni Olsen) to push for Texas statehood.

On his way to Texas, Dev saves the life of Tom Crane (Broderick Crawford), who's being pursued by Indians. The hotheaded Crane strongly opposes statehood, envisioning Texas as a independent country which would take over much of North America, with a powerful role for himself.

Gardner plays a strong-willed Austin newspaper publisher who initially supports Crane but eventually comes around to Dev's way of thinking.

Although the screenplay is by the estimable Borden Chase, screenwriter of RED RIVER (1948), WINCHESTER '73 (1950), and other favorites, it's just not as interesting as it should be. The pace is sludgy, with many scenes of older men sitting around tables arguing, then spots of high-powered action periodically breaking up the talky scenes. The final battle, with Crane's crew going up again Dev and his group of volunteers, trying to break down the wall of a fort, is pretty exciting.

Despite finding it only a so-so film, I'd watch it again, for the same reasons I've watched it several times over my lifetime, and they both have the last initial G. Gardner is stunning and spunky, and she and Gable have some nice scenes together. And I guess I'd watch Clark Gable in pretty much anything.

The supporting cast includes Ed Begley (Sr.), Beulah Bondi, James Burke, Lowell Gilmore, Ric Roman, William Conrad, Russell Simpson, Trevor Bardette, and Harry Woods.

LONE STAR was directed by Vincent Sherman. It was filmed in black and white by Harold Rosson.

The Warner Archive DVD includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Jerry Entract said...

My feelings about "LONE STAR" follow pretty much the same lines as yours, Laura. Certainly wouldn't dismiss it but it could (should) have been better than it turns out.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Enjoyed reading your take, Jerry! It's just one of those so-so movies which is likeable enough to watch yet flawed enough to disappoint (grin).

Best wishes,

3:57 PM  

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