Cast & Crew
In Abilene, Kansas in 1866, Dan Thomas and Tod Ramsey, saddle pals who served the Confederacy together, meet railroad promoter Windy Miller when Miller pays their fine for a trespassing offense. To earn money to pay their debt, Tod agrees to fight professional boxer Dutch Henry when Henry's opponent breaks his leg while leaping into the ring. After forty rounds, the impatient audience joins the fray, and Dan and Tod flee the angry crowd and continue their journey to Texas. While riding the trail, they witness a gang of outlaws holding up a stage and robbing a cattle buyer of $10,000. Afterward, they ambush the robbers and take the money, which Tod wants to return but Dan plans to keep. While Dan rides off to lasso a cow for dinner, the sheriff rides up with his posse and finds Tod with the stolen money. Just as the posse is about to lynch Tod for robbery, Dan rides in, warning of an Indian attack. In the chaos, Dan and Tod gallop away, then separate to elude their pursuers. Dan hijacks a buggy driven by "Mike" King, a rancher's daughter. The fiesty Mike strikes Dan with her whip, and after a wild ride, Dan returns control of the carriage to Mike. Furious, Mike drives back to the ranch and meets Tod, the new ranchhand. Meanwhile, in town, Dan is embroiled in a fight with the saloon keeper when the sheriff enters and arrests him for robbing the stage. Dan takes the sheriff hostage, but when Doc Buford Thorpe, the town dentist and a passenger on the stage, testifies that Dan was not one of the robbers, the stand-off ends. Noticing that Dan has a bad tooth, Doc invites him to his office, where he introduces him to rancher Matt Lashan. Doc convinces Lashan to hire Dan to drive his cattle to Abilene, and when Dan reports for duty at the ranch, he recognizes Tennessee and Comstock, two of Lashan's hands, as the robbers. Just as a brawl is about to begin, Lashan arrives and invites Dan to join his gang of cattle rustlers. Meanwhile, in town, Dusty King, Mike's father, is trying to rally the ranchers to defend themselves against the rustlers when a shot rings out and kills him. Four months later, King's murderer is still at large and Tod is now running the ranch and courting Mike. At a meeting of the ranchers, Tod meets Dan again and the two vie for Mike's attention. When Windy speaks at the meeting and offers to buy the ranchers' cattle for two dollars a head and drive them to his railroad in Abilene, Tod challenges his offer and suggests the ranchers merge their herds and sell them in Abilene themselves. After the meeting, Doc, the mastermind behind the rustlers, asks Windy and Lashan to come to his office to have their teeth examined. As Doc pulls Lashan's tooth, he instructs him to join the other ranchers while arranging for his men to ambush the drive before it reaches Abilene. On the eve of the drive, Dan proposes to Mike, but she postpones giving him an answer. The arduous drive begins, and as Lashan's men wait to attack the herd, Dan suggests that they could earn more money by letting the cattle through and stealing the funds from the cattle buyer in Abilene. Leaving his men at an outpost ten miles from town, Dan rides into Abilene to spread the news that the cattle are coming. Trying to beat the other buyers, Windy rides to the outpost where he is met by Dan and his men, who steal his horse and money. Vowing revenge, Windy returns to town, and when he learns that Dan is at the saddle store, buying an engraved saddle for Mike, he goes there to demand the return of the money. After Dan outguns Windy, Lashan, who has tracked Dan to the store, trains his gun on him. Tod shoots the gun out of Lashan's hand, thus saving his friend's life. Tod and Dan then argue over Mike, and Dan rides back to Texas, where he is met by Doc. After informing Dan that he owns Lashan's ranch, Doc offers to make him a partner if he agrees to kill Tod. Dan refuses to kill his friend, however, and leaves the office to deliver the saddle to Mike. He asks her to marry him that night, but she insists on waiting for Tod's return the following day. The next day, Tod and the ranchers ride into town, and are greeted by cheering crowds. Dan asks Tod to join him in the backroom of the saloon for a talk, and as Tod pleads with his friend to leave town with him and forsake Mike, Lashan shoots Tod through an open window. Thinking that Dan is Tod's assailant, the townsfolk pursue him into the street. After shooting Lashan, Dan leaps over the rooftops and into a corral filled with cattle. Tod, who has only suffered a flesh wound, regains consciousness and declares that Dan was not his assailant. Meanwhile, the cattle, terrified at the sound of gunfire, stampede, breaking down the fence and dragging Dan into the street. Doc sees him from his office window, and when Dan climbs the stairs to the office, Doc shoots him and Dan returns fire. Drawn by the sound of gunshots, Tod runs to Doc's office and shields Mike from the gruesome sight. Sometime later, Mike and Tod ride along together, holding hands and herding the cattle.
M. W. Stoloff
William Cool White
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 Bischoff Director: George Marshall Screenplay: 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
According to pre-production news items in Hollywood Reporter, Stuart Heisler was initially slated to direct this picture, but after an illness forced him to withdraw from the project, Charles Vidor was assigned to direct. After Vidor refused the assignment, George Marshall was hired. Evelyn Keyes was considered for the role of "Mike King," according to a Hollywood Reporter news item. Another pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter adds that in December 1940, Glenn Ford was assigned to replace William Holden in the lead role when Holden was suspended by Paramount (which shared his contract with Columbia) over a financial disagreement. The news item does not specify which part Ford was assigned, however, and both actors star in the completed picture.
Other news items in Hollywood Reporter furnish the following information about the film's production: The studio imported 500 Longhorn steers from Texas to appear in the film. Exteriors were shot at the Balkins Ranch near Calabasas, CA. The engine used in the sequence depicting the completion of the railroad was built in 1861 and was used to haul gold out of Virginia City during the Civil War. Four cameras were employed to shoot the sequence. According to the Variety review, the preview prints of the film were sepia toned. Edgar Buchanan, who played dentist "Doc Thorpe" in the film, had practiced dentistry before turning to acting. Modern sources add Lyle Lytell, George Lloyd and Richard Fiske to the cast.