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The Texas Rangers (1936)

Passed | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 28 August 1936 (USA)
Two down-on-their-luck former outlaws volunteer to be Texas Rangers and find themselves assigned to bring in an old friend, now a notorious outlaw.


King Vidor


King Vidor (story), Elizabeth Hill (story) | 2 more credits »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Fred MacMurray ... Jim Hawkins
Jack Oakie ... Henry B. 'Wahoo' Jones
Jean Parker ... Amanda Bailey
Lloyd Nolan ... Sam 'Polka Dot' McGee
Edward Ellis ... Major Bailey
Benny Bartlett ... David (as Bennie Bartlett)
Frank Shannon ... Captain Stafford
Frank Cordell Frank Cordell ... Ranger Ditson
Richard Carle ... Casper Johnson
Jed Prouty ... District Attorney Dave Twitchell
Fred Kohler ... Jess Higgins (as Fred Kohler Sr.)
George 'Gabby' Hayes ... Judge Snow (as George Hayes)


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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

28 August 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Milicias de paz See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its earliest documented telecasts took place in Pittsburgh Wednesday 8 July 1959 on KDKA (Channel 2), followed by Omaha 23 July 1959 on KETV (Channel 7), by Phoenix 16 August 1959 on WLOS (Channel 12), by Milwaukee 16 October 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), by Toledo 29 October 1959 on WTOL (Channel 11), by Seattle 27 November 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), and, finally, by New York City 25 December 1959 on WCBS (Channel 2). It was released on DVD 8 May 2007 as one of 4 titles in Universal's Classic Western Roundup Volume 1, and, since that time has also enjoyed several airings on cable TV on the Western Channel. See more »


Hawkins and the other Rangers are surrounded by Indians. He kills the 2 Indians rolling rocks, throwing his empty pistol at one. As he descends the other side, he mounts a bareback horse, riding off shooting a pistol that shouldn't be there as he rides away. See more »


Jim Hawkins: Sam, you got a very understanding brain... for larceny.
Sam McGee: I found out early in life that the honest dollar is the hardest one to make.
See more »


Remade as Streets of Laredo (1949) See more »


Allá en el Rancho Grande
See more »

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User Reviews

Lots of great elements a little mishmashed up, not bad, not terrific
27 August 2011 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

The Texas Rangers (1936)

Routine. There are elements here of Westerns earlier (there were hundreds of obscure ones) and Westerns later (including some well known ones), with stagecoach holdups and cowboy and Indian battles (the Indians lose again) and with pioneer justice. All of the above, plus a man reluctant to see the love of a lonely and lovely woman out on the edge of nowhere.

In a sense, it isn't worth watching if you have other Westerns up your sleeve. But--there has to be a but--the plot is interesting because it turns upside down more times than a tumbleweed, the filming (with Cronjager behind the camera) is straight up and strong, and we get an early look at unlikely Wild West hero, Fred MacMurray. For those who like Westerns, this is a decent mid-30s example, before the explosion of greater examples in 1939.

The title is exactly what the movie is about on the surface--the ragtag but well supported Texas lawmen known as the Texas Rangers (legendary enough to not only have a more recent widely panned movie about them made starring Ashton Kushner but also a Baseball Team). It almost is a promo piece for the group, with a voice-over in the beginning like those FBI films of the 1950s. MacMurray is actually a bandit, teamed up with a kind of goofy second lead, Jack Oakey. In fact, it seems like a comedy at first, and the lightweight air never quite lets up.

It does get more serious, though, not only about love (briefly) but about the honor and ability of the Rangers to fight not only Indians but outlaws. MacMurray gets in the middle of a major mess because he plays both sides of the game, as outlaw and newbie Texas Ranger. Lloyd Nolan enters the plot after awhile and is a great outlaw of his own. It's hard to take MacMurray seriously in this rough rough world, but the music pumps it up and the scenery is dramatic and he holds his own well enough for a middling movie.

And it's a bit long. Even if the plot seems to demand two hours with more and more twists, it loses something of velocity as it goes. King Vidor directed a number of notable silents in the 20s, and a few great 30s films (including the black and white parts of the Wizard of Oz). This one shows the solidity of a great director, and the wobbly backbone of a so-so script.

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