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Rip-roaring big star, big budget semi-historical story about cattle baron Devereaux Burke, who is enlisted by an aging Andrew Jackson to dissuade Sam Houston from establishing Texas as a republic. Burke must fight state senator Thomas Craden, in the process winning the heart of Craden's newspaper-editor girlfriend Martha Ronda. Written by
Lew Amack (LAlawMedMBA@aol.com)
The diplomatic and political machinations around the admission of Texas to the USA are incredibly complex and are touched on in this film. It would have taken a longer and better film to explain it all. I think MGM had plans for one in this, but Dore Schary was budget cutting at the time and this got B western treatment for a stellar cast.
One thing they show is true and that is the influence of 77 year old former President Andrew Jackson on the Democratic Party he founded. His prestige was that big, he was the dominant political figure for 20 years or so in the country before, during and after his presidency.
Lionel Barrymore reprises the role of Jackson, he had previously played in MGM's The Gorgeous Hussy. He's still wheeling and dealing and he doesn't like what he's heard that his old friend and comrade in arms Sam Houston is climbing off his position of being for the annexation of the Texas Republic to the United States. On his own he sends Clark Gable as Devereaux Burke Texas cattleman to seek out Houston and get the real story.
On the way to completing his mission Gable finds Ava Gardner who is the editor of a local paper in Austin and Broderick Crawford another Texas cattleman who is violently opposed to annexation. They get a good political rivalry and a personal one over Gardner.
In the film as in real life Sam Houston, played by Moroni Olsen, is running a big bluff. He's playing footsie with the British by negotiating a treaty of alliance with them in order to force the hand of northern politicians who are against slavery, but who would like even less the British moving into Texas.
There's an exciting battle between the pro and anti annexation forces while the Texas Congress meets. It results however in a very unreal conclusion to the story.
It's unfortunate given the stellar cast Lone Star has that a better scripted story was not developed for them, even one that is completely factual. It's an A picture subject that got B picture treatment.
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