“The Texas Rangers,” On Screen

There is quite a wrinkle in the old Western, The Texas Rangers (1936), in that the two principal characters who join the famous Rangers are fakers—stagecoach robbers hiding out in the organization.  Fred MacMurray is one of them, jocular Jack Oakie is another; but as time goes on, both of them reform, and remain Rangers.

The let’s-roll adventures begin early: wild Indians entrap the motley lawmen, and later MacMurray, though still unscrupulous, forces a murdering kingpin to be tried.  At this point scriptwriter Louis Stevens keeps up the captivating work by having one of MacMurray’s buddies, a fellow stagecoach robber (Lloyd Nolan), save MacMurray’s life by shooting down two men who want to kill him.  Nolan’s character, even so, is bad news.  In The Texas Rangers, an antihero, MacMurray, becomes a hero (also, it seems that all along he’s a believer in God) while his buddy, Nolan, is a heavy who gets morally worse.

All of it is enjoyable enough to possibly make Rangers one of director King Vidor‘s best films.  The pacing is good, the principal acting—well—not bad.  MacMurray’s love interest is a young Jean Arthur, spunky and looking like Claudette Colbert.

 

 

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