Texas, 1878: cheerful outlaw-buddies Jim, Lorn and Wahoo rescue spunky orphan Rannie Carter from rustling racketeers, then are forced to separate. Lorn goes on to bigger and better robberies, while Jim and Wahoo are (at first reluctantly) maneuvered into joining the Texas Rangers. For friendship's sake, the three try to keep out of direct conflict, but a showdown begins to look inevitable. And Rannie, now grown into lovely young womanhood, must choose between Lorn and Jim. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Despite slack direction from Leslie Fenton, this is a better-than-average Technicolor Western. At the time Holden was not yet a headline performer, while Carey never reached that pinnacle. Here, both contribute nicely, especially Carey whose bad-good guy with a toothy grin is just slippery enough to be convincing. The chemistry between him and Holden comes across effectively. Too bad that director Fenton doesn't do more to bring out the dramatic aspects of the friendship, though the final scene is both well-staged and appropriate. For me, the movie's highlight is the absolutely gorgeous Technicolor framing of the outdoor scenes. Somebody sure knew how to frame those scenes in an impressive way that adds greatly to the film's unusually riveting eye-appeal.
The story itself is a good one. The screenplay develops Holden and Bendix's transition from outlaws to Rangers in believable fashion. What is suggested is that some outlaws can be reformed by respect and an honorable code of conduct, which strikes me as a worthwhile piece of insight and good moral to the story. On the downside, Mona Freeman as the high-spirited lass comes across as too callow and stagey for the much more mature Holden and Carey to butt heads over. Then too, Alfonso Bedoya's unlikely role looks like an effort at cashing in on his Treasure of the Sierra Madre success. In passing-- note that the classic trail song "Streets of Laredo" is not the one sung in the movie. It's a disappointing something else, probably composed for the film. I wonder if the producers had trouble getting rights to use the real song. Too bad. Anyway, the movie plays better than Leonard Maltin's rather dismal professional review, especially for those who like long views, big clouds, and a sense of open horizons.
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