Watch The Texas Rangers
- 1 hr 35 min
In 1936, a Western film entitled The Texas Rangers was released, starring Fred MacMurray, Jack Oakie, and Jean Parker. Set in the late 1800s, the film follows a group of Texas Rangers as they attempt to bring justice to the lawless land. At the start of the film, two of the Rangers, Jim Hawkins (played by MacMurray) and Wally Roberts (played by Oakie), are summoned by their commander, Captain Herndon (played by Lloyd Nolan). Together with a third Ranger, Dusty (played by Albert Dekker), they are instructed to infiltrate a gang of outlaws who have been wreaking havoc on the region. Their mission is to gather evidence against the gang's leader, a notorious outlaw known only as "The Shadow."
To accomplish this task, the Rangers split up and go undercover, with Hawkins posing as a wanted criminal and Roberts pretending to be a cattle rustler. They quickly find themselves in the middle of the gang's activities, which include robbing banks, stealing cattle, and ambushing stagecoaches. Along the way, they encounter a number of obstacles, from treacherous terrain to suspicious townspeople to the gang's own members.
As the Rangers gather information about The Shadow and his organization, they discover that there is more at stake than just bringing a group of criminals to justice. The Shadow and his men are working on a scheme to take control of the entire region, lining up political and financial support from influential people in the area. With the help of a local rancher's daughter, Ellen (played by Parker), the Rangers devise a plan to take down The Shadow and his operation once and for all.
The Texas Rangers features all the classic elements of a Western: gunfights, chases, and rugged landscapes. Director King Vidor imbues the film with a sense of authenticity, using real-life locations throughout Texas and Oklahoma to give the audience a feel for the wide-open spaces of the Old West. The film also benefits from strong performances from its cast, particularly MacMurray and Oakie as the two lead Rangers. MacMurray, fresh off his breakout role in The Gilded Lily, brings a quiet intensity to Jim Hawkins, while Oakie provides comic relief as the bumbling Wally Roberts.
One of the most interesting aspects of The Texas Rangers is its portrayal of law and order in the West. The Rangers are shown as a highly organized, highly trained group of lawmen, with a strict code of conduct and a dedication to justice. At the same time, the film acknowledges that the Rangers were not always perfect, and that they sometimes resorted to violent or underhanded tactics in pursuit of their goals. This nuanced approach to the Rangers' legacy was uncommon for its time, and adds a layer of complexity to the film's themes.
Overall, The Texas Rangers is an engaging, well-made Western that stands out for its attention to historical detail and nuanced portrayal of its characters. Fans of the genre will appreciate the film's classic elements, while those looking for a more thoughtful exploration of the West and its legacy will find plenty to enjoy as well.