(director/writer: King Vidor; screenwriter: story by Elizabeth Hill & King Vidor/Louis Stevens/based on The Texas Rangers (1935) by Walter Prescott Webb; cinematographer: Edward Cronjager; editor: Doane Harrison; music: Gerard Carbonara; cast: Fred MacMurray (Jim Hawkins), Jack Oakie ( Wahoo Jones), Jean Parker (Amanda Bailey), George Hayes (Judge Snow), Fred Kohler (Jess Higgins), Lloyd Nolan (Sam McGee, “Polka Dot”), Edward Ellis (Major Bailey); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: King Vidor; Paramount; 1936)

A lively but uneven big-budget western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A lively but uneven big-budget western made with the cooperation and approval of the Texas Rangers. The Texas born King Vidor (“The Fountainhead”/”Ruby Gentry”/”Solomon and Sheba”)aims to show how law and order came to Texas with the formation of the Texas Rangers.The result is that hateful Indians and outlaws are no longer welcome in the new Texas–only those who can be good citizens (lndian or White) are accepted. It’s based on a story by Elizabeth Hill & King Vidor, with Louis Stevens writing the screenplay. He based the screenplay on the official records of the Rangers he drew from the non-fiction book The Texas Rangers (1935) by Walter Prescott Webb.

It’s set a few years after the Civil War. Jim Hawkins (Fred MacMurray) and Wahoo Jones (Jack Oakie) are the train robbers who become Texas Rangers, at a time it was first organized, while their partner, Sam McGee (Lloyd Nolan), becomes the wanted infamous outlaw they must capture. Oakie is killed pursuing Nolan, MacMurray, in the film’s iconic scene: McGee smilingly puts a hole through Wahoo’s stomach with a gun he has hidden under a table. MacMurray was at first reluctant to go after his ex-partner, but after the murder changes his mind. His heroics win Jean Parker’s heart.

The film was released to coincide with the Texas Centennial.