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TEXAS LADY(director: Tim Whalen; screenwriter: story by Horace McMahon/Horace McMahon; cinematographer: Ray Rennahan; editor: Richard Farrell; music: Les Paul and Mary Ford; cast: Claudette Colbert (Prudence Webb), Barry Sullivan (Chris Mooney), Ray Collins (Mica Ralston, rancher), Horace McMahon (Stringer Winfield), Walter Sande (Sturdy), John Litel (Meade Moore, wigwam owner), Don Haggerty (Sheriff Herndon), Douglas Fowley (Clay Ballard, Clarion owner), James Bell (Cass Gower), Gregory Walcott (Deputy Jess Foley), Alexander Campbell (Judge E. Ness Herzog); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Nat Holt; RKO; 1955)
“A stagnant western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

American director Tim Whalen (“Rage at Dawn”/”Badman’s Territory”/”Swing Fever”) who earned his rep in England making comedies, directs his last film. Unfortunately Texas Lady is a stagnant western; it stars the 50-year-old Claudette Colbert. Les Paul and Mary Ford sing the lively title song (the only good thing about the film). Horace McMahon is the writer, who also has a supporting role.

It’s set in 1885. Professional riverboat gambler Chris Mooney (Barry Sullivan) loses $50,000 in a poker game to a New Orleans belle named Prudence Webb (Claudette Colbert). Declining his invite to be his riverboat gambling partner, Prudence heads to Fort Ralston, Texas, to run a newspaper her late father left her. Over breakfast she tells Chris how her father lost to Chris in gambling and this caused him to embezzle $50,000 from the bank where he worked and then committed suicide. Playing for revenge, Prudence then returns to her hometown bank to pay off her father’s debt before taking over as publisher. Fort Ralston was founded and is run by two cattle barons, Micah Ralston (Ray Collins) and his partner Sturdy (Walter Sande), who fought the Indians and run things with an iron hand. At the Clarion, the editor, Clay Ballard (Douglas Fowley) refuses to accept Prudence’s signed papers that she owns the paper that Clay’s estranged brother signed over to her father when he lost in poker. Washed-up drunken lawyer Cass Gower (James Bell) gets spruced up and takes the case to get her authenticated as publisher, which he successfully accomplishes.

What follows is the crusading publisher getting involved in a murder of a rancher by one of Ralston’s goons, the illiterate deputy sheriff (Gregory Walcott), and Chris surprisingly showing up to woo her and help her get justice as she fights corruption against the crooked cattle barons. None of it seemed plausible, and it was poorly executed.

REVIEWED ON 10/13/2008 GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”