In this version of the Billy the Kid legend, Billy, after shooting down land baron William Donovan's henchmen for killing Billy's boss, is hunted down and captured by his friend, Sheriff ... See full summary »
Johnny Mack Brown,
Jim Hawkins and Wahoo Jones are stagecoach robbers who head to Texas to find Sam McGee, their partner. Once there, low on funds, they join the Texas Rangers, come across Sam, and decide to run their game by sending Sam inside information. Meanwhile, though, in pacifying rebellious Indians, Jim and Wahoo start to take on the code of the Rangers, and the daughter of the Ranger's major sets her sights on Jim. Can there be honor among thieves, or are Jim, Wahoo, and Sam on a collision course? As a lawless frontier becomes a civilized land, which side will the boys chose? Written by
Entertaining Studio Western by King Vidor with Three Solid Leads
This Paramount studio effort stars Fred MacMurray, who many folks today only remember as the Dad in My Three Songs or the Flubber films. But MacMurry could do almost anything and do it well, from his cunning performance as the weak insurance foil in the classic noir Double Indemnity to his brilliant turn as the amoral business executive in The Apartment.
Here early MacMurray is pared with Jack Oakie, the latter an endearing studio performer who brings some genuine warmth and humor to what in many ways is a typical studio Western, but much richer than the usual B oaters churned out by Republic or Monogram; this is essentially a tale of cowboy reformation, as three thieving get separated by circumstance and two of them choose community and goodness, while one--the notorious polka dot bandit (!), played by Lloyd Nolan, stays outside the law. Nolan, who usually played good second leads or endearing detectives, effortlessly engages in a wee bit of method acting, convincing in his greasy charm, oozing villainy and malice.
While not a landmark film in any way, this is a casual, amiable entertainment, good for a lazy afternoon (coupled with a bowl of popcorn and perhaps a Charlie Chan mystery).
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