(director: Phil Karlson; screenwriters: story by Frank Gruber/Richard Schayer; cinematographer: Ellis Carter; editor: Al Clark; music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff; cast: George Montgomery (Johnny Carver), Noah Beery Jr. (Buff Smith), William Bishop (Sam Bass), Gale Storm (Helen Fenton), Jerome Courtland (Danny Bonner), John Litel (Maj. John D. Jones), Ian MacDonald (The Sundance Kid), John Doucette (Butch Cassidy), John Dehner (John Wesley Hardin), Douglas Kennedy (Dave Rudabaugh), Jock O’ Mahoney (Duke Fisher), Joseph Fallon (Jimmy), Stanley Andrews (Marshal Gorey), Dick Wessel (Arkansas), Trevor Bardette (telegraph operator), Julian Rivero(Pecos Palmer); Runtime: 74; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Bernard Small; Columbia Pictures; 1951)

“Action-packed B Western about the Texas Rangers.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Phil Karlson (“Gunman’s Walk”/”Rampage”/”Walking Tall”) directs an action-packed B Western about the Texas Rangers in the post-civil period fighting outlaws on the Texas frontier. It’s based on the story byFrank Gruber and is written in a hokey way by Richard Schayer.

The film is set in 1874 in Texas, after the Union Army of Occupation departs and Texas becomes a lawless place. The Texas legislature re-finances the disbanded Texas Rangers and they return with their leader Maj. John D. Jones (John Litel), a former Confederate officer. Within two years the Rangers bring law and order to the West, until the ruthless train robber Sam Bass (William Bishop)organizes the surviving outlaws to work together, with him as leader, in a gang calledthe Longriders Association. With a new crime wave, the public calls for a better response from the Texas Rangers and the governor threatens to cut off its funding unless there are better results. Thereby Major Jones comes up with a radical plan to release the bank robbers Johnny Carver (George Montgomery), serving a life sentence in prison, and his sidekick prison mateBuff Smith (Noah Beery Jr.), both served under Jones in the Civil War, and both men are promised by Jones a full pardon and job as Rangers if they help break up the gang they know so well.

Problems arise on the trail when Carver guns down in revenge the sleazy bank robber, The Sundance Kid (Ian MacDonald), who double-crossed him during the Waco bank hold-up and caused his arrest. When Carver wants to renege on his promise to the Major and desert, his kid brother Danny (Jerome Courtland), a Texas Ranger, is disappointed. When Carver’s brother is killed in an ambush led by Dave Rudabaugh (Douglas Kennedy), Carver decides to honor his vow to the Major and figures out how to become part of the Bass gang so he can set a trap for them when he gives them info of a train carrying a million dollars of gold.

The familiar story of the reformed criminal is trite, but that final shootout on the train is a beauty.

Gale Storm plays the thankless hackneyed role of the crusading editor of a Waco newspaper, whose publisher father was killed by the Sundance Kid in the Waco bank robbery and, who after misjudging Carver, falls in love with him.

There are no surprises nor does it have anything worthwhile to say in its fictionalized telling of the history of the Texas Rangers, but it’s lively and entertaining.

REVIEWED ON 9/21/2012 GRADE: B-    https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/