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In the light, comedic western Texas (1941), William Holden and Glenn Ford play Confederate veterans wandering through the Lone Star state. Their paths diverge when Holden joins a gang of cattle rustlers and Ford becomes a ranch cowhand. Both, however, fall for Claire Trevor, the rancher's daughter, leading to conflict in more ways than one. Edgar Buchanan plays the town dentist who is also head of the rustler gang, and he almost steals the show. The character actor later said the part of Doc Thorpe in Texas was his favorite of his entire career. Buchanan had actually practiced as a real dentist before turning to acting, and he threw himself into the colorful part so completely that even Variety took notice: "A slick and arresting portrayal by Edgar Buchanan, which ranks with the best supporting contributions of the year," said the review.
Texas was an early picture for both William Holden (his seventh credited performance) and Glenn Ford (his ninth). Their careers had started at almost exactly the same time at Columbia Pictures, and their trajectories would continue to parallel one another, with both reaching stardom at almost the same time. They maintained a playful competitiveness throughout their careers and became close friends, even though they only worked together once more, in The Man from Colorado (1948). When Holden died in 1981, Ford tearfully told a reporter, "I've lost my best friend."
Holden was under contract jointly to Columbia and Paramount at the time of Texas, making $125 a week. He didn't want to do this film because he felt he wasn't being paid enough, and he balked. After being placed on suspension, he eventually changed his mind and reported back for work.
According to the Holden biography Golden Boy by Bob Thomas, Texas director George Marshall enjoyed goading Ford and Holden to compete with each other and perform their own stunts. Marshall would tell each actor individually that the other had already agreed to do the stunt, and usually the ploy worked. One day, the stunt in question was a deceptively tricky one - the actors had to swim their horses across a lake. After Ford and Holden agreed to do it, they conferred with each other and discovered that neither had ever done it before. They approached a stunt man, who said, "You guys are crazy to do something like that. If your horses fall over in the water, they'll kick you to death." Nonetheless he offered some pointers, which author Bob Thomas recounted as: "Don't try to lead the horse, just let it swim. Lean back, hold onto the mane and the pommel. Hope to God your horse is a good swimmer."
It was good advice - Ford and Holden managed the stunt just fine.
Producer: Samuel BischoffDirector: George MarshallScreenplay: Michael Blankfort, Lewis Meltzer, Horace McCoy
Cinematography: George Meehan
Film Editing: William Lyon
Art Direction: Lionel Banks
Music: Sidney Cutner, Ross DiMaggio, Carmen Dragon
Cast: William Holden (Dan Thomas), Glenn Ford (Tod Ramsey), Claire Trevor (Mike King), George Bancroft (Windy Miller), Edgar Buchanan (Buford Thorpe), Don Beddoe (Sheriff).
by Jeremy Arnold