The Texas Rangers (1936)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Traditional Western  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

A decent A-list Western from a period when "oaters" were more often produced at a "B" level, The Texas Rangers packs enough action into its story to keep fans of the genre satisfied but lacks enough of a spark to move them to add the film to their "must see" list. Rangers is helmed by King Vidor, and the director certainly feels at home in the wide open spaces of Texas (or, in actuality, New Mexico, where most of the location work was actually filmed). Vidor knows how to use the vistas, the prairies, the enormity of the land to good effect, not just for action but to evoke a sense of loneliness that acts as a reflection of the emptiness that his characters feel. Unfortunately, Vidor's work in this area isn't supported by the screenplay, which isn't as artful at creating imaginative characters and situations and which strains mightily to maintain believability in several instances. Vidor gets a valuable assist from Jack Oakie, the comic actor who supplies a number of laughs but also adds a convincing dollop of drama, and from Lloyd Nolan, who is quite good as the man that must be hunted down. Unfortunately, star Fred MacMurray doesn't seem comfortable in the role or the surroundings, and this puts a significant damper on the overall effectiveness of the flick.