In this Hoot Gibson version/swipe of the "Zorro" story, sneaky Lafe Kildare, the crooked cashier of a Texas bank, murders the bank president, Jim Fremont, to keep from being exposed as a thief. He covers up his crime, becomes president of the bank and is the leader of a small army of gunmen oppressing the ranchers of Comanche County. Curt Fremont rides in to investigate his brother's murder, and convinces Kildare that he is a harmless, brainless, worthless, no-account lazy drifter--- and might even be a sissy or a fop ---so Kildare decides he isn't worth the trouble of having him killed.Curt's pose also does nothing to impress rancher's daughter Mary Lou Moran as day-by-day he does nothing but lay around and eat and sleep and ignore Mary Lou, and Mary Lou is not use to being ignored. But... night after night, Curt rides out in a Mexican costume as a bandit called "El Capitan" and harasses Kildare's business enterprises to the point of becoming a nuisance. Kildare offers a reward for ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Clearing the Range" is pretty typical of many of Hoot Gibson's films. It has a comic element and certainly doesn't take itself very seriously. This helps, as the portion where Gibson pretends he is the Mexican bandit 'El Capitan' is very weak and laughable--and so I was willing to cut it some slack.
The story begins with Kildare murdering his partner at the bank. This is because Mr. Fremont discovered that Kildare was embezzling funds--and Fremont even told Kildare this when there were no witnesses around in case Kildare reacted violently. And, naturally, Kildare does EXACTLY what the audience expected! What Kildare didn't plan on was Fremont having a brother. Curt Fremont (Gibson) soon arrives in town. He has a note from his brother that explains that Kildare is probably embezzling funds. However, Curt plays it cool and behaves like a very peaceable man--a guy who hates danger or arguments. He even treats Kildare like an old friend when he knows the real Kildare is scum. However, using his alter-ego of 'El Capitan', he avenges the murder and in many ways behaves like Robin Hood or, more likely, like Zorro. The only problem is that Gibson's Mexican accent is lame and he can barely speak Spanish!! It was ridiculous and was a far cry from the amazingly good performances by Tim McCoy when he, too, played a Mexican bandit as a disguise in several of his films.
If this doesn't sound silly enough, one of Curt's friends, Juan, spends much of the movie in drag--hiding from Kildare and making an amazingly convincing Senorita! Because of all this silliness, it's hard to hate the movie--even when it is AMAZINGLY ridiculous. Worth seeing but certainly not a very believable western!
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