Wells Fargo sends Johnny Macklin (Johnny Mack Brown) to Rimrock to investigate stage hold-ups and general lawlessness which, according to local agent Tom Jamison (Steve Clark) is caused by saloon owner Steve Corbin (Tristram Coffin) and his henchmen Duke Sprague (Marshall Reed) and Ace Jenkins (Terry Frost). When Steve kills a man he had cheated in a poker game, the Rimrock Chronicle, owned by Idaho Jim Foster (Raymond Hatton) and edited by his daughter, Diane (Reno Browne), starts a vigilante movement to clean up the town. Jamison, also the mayor, swears Johnny in as the town marshal. Johnny lets henchman Slats Harper (Lynton Brent) overhear information about a fictitious gold shipment, and traps some of Steve's men when they attempt a hold-up. Steve packs the jury and his men are set free. Saloon singer Kitty Malone (Claudia Drake), who is in love with Steve, becomes jealous of Flo Vickerk (Christine McIntyre), and warns Johnny that three gunmen have been imported to kill him. Flo ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Roy and Gene and Tex could sing. Buck and Ken seemed the real thing. Tim had the look of an eagle. Wild Bill and little Bob Steele were dynamic actors. William Boyd as Hoppy was Dad in a Stetson. But the best of all the B cowboy heroes might well have been Johnny Mack Brown. Handsome enough to have wooed and won Garbo and Crawford as a silent film matinée idol, he was a forceful and yet sensitive actor who projected an engaging personality. Best of all, this former All-American football star at Alabama was a superb horseman and all-around athlete. No one was better in the action scenes.
Brown's career stuttered with the coming of sound, his warm Southern accent for some reason viewed as a drawback, until eventually he found his niche in the mid-thirties in B westerns. He would remain one of the most popular cowboy stars until well into the fifties.
The Gentleman From Texas might well be the best of the 130 or so westerns which Johnny Mack filmed during his career. Produced by Monogram bigwig Scott Dunlap, the little studio obviously put their best into it. Old-time William S Hart director Lambert Hillyer handled the action scenes with panache. Brown was in his early forties, but as with John Wayne and Robert Mitchum, maturity sat well on him. His weight problems were still in the future.
The plot is an old sagebrush standby with Brown an ex-lawman brought in by Wells Fargo to put the lid on a wide open town, and who is swiftly appointed town marshal. Raymond Hatton is the publisher of the local newspaper who takes on the job of Brown's deputy. Reno Blair is Hatton's daughter and the courageous editor who rallies the good folks of the town to back Brown.
The bad guys are a formidable bunch, led by the urbane Tristram Coffin, the slickest of the "boss" heavies of the forties. Marshall Reed, Terry Frost, and Pierce Lyden lead the pack of henchmen and hired guns doing Coffin's bidding. There are plenty of hard riding chases, shootout after shootout, and two bone-jarring to the finish fistfights, before Brown can scrub the town clean and restore law and order.
While the basic plot is familiar, there is one twist which separates this film from the usual B western offering. Coffin has not one but two saloon girl mistresses, played by the talented Claudia Drake and blonde Three Stooges comic foil Christine McIntyre, who are willing to become involved in murder plots, leading to several unusual complications.
Everything from the acting to the action is well done. Even the musical interludes, often a drawback, are top notch and entertaining.
All in all, a must for Johnny Mack or B western fans, and a good one for others who might want to dip into this once most popular genre.
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