The Arizona Ranger
Cast & Crew
In 1898, just after Arizona rancher Rawhide Morgan learns that his son Bob, a recently discharged Rough Rider, will be returning home soon, the Morgan Ranch is besieged by a gang of cattle rustlers. Fearless Rawhide and devoted hand Ben Riddle chase the rustlers off the range but are unable to catch them. Although Rawhide is sure that the gang's leader, Quirt Butler, is hiding in the cabin he sometimes shares with his wife Laura, he finds nothing there. Apprised by Rawhide of Butler's illegal activities, Laura attempts to flee town on the next stage, but is spotted by Butler and dragged into the street. Seeing Laura thus abused, Bob and his fellow Rough Riders, Mac and Gil, who have just arrived in town, begin to brawl with Butler and his men. Rawhide breaks up the fight, but learns that his reunion with Bob is to be shortlived when Bob admits that he has accepted a commission from the governor to organize the Arizona Rangers and bring law and order to the territory. An outspoken believer in vigilante justice, Rawhide belittles Bob's choice and angrily parts with him. Bob's first assignment as a Ranger is to arrest Nimino Welch, one of Butler's men, who is wanted for armed robbery. Although Bob easily arrests Nimino, Butler ambushes the stagecoach that is carrying him to jail and frees him. In town, meanwhile, Bob tries to convince Laura to leave Butler, but she contends that she can never escape him and is resigned to her fate. Later, Butler, who was shot by Rawhide while fleeing the stagecoach, shows up at Laura's cabin. To protect Bob when he arrives looking for the gun-wielding Butler, Laura lies that he has come and gone. Butler's men then raid Rawhide's cattle and shoot and kill Ben. Sure that Butler is his friend's killer, Rawhide corners him at Laura's and prepares to lynch him. Explaining that Butler could not have murdered Ben because he was with her, Laura risks her own reputation to alert Bob to Rawhide's impending injustice. Bob forces his father to turn over the outlaw, but Butler's men later trick Laura into diverting Bob and a posse so that they can free Butler from jail. Ridiculed by his father and removed from his post, Bob becomes determined to recapture Butler and Nimino and stakes out Laura's cabin. Soon, Nimino and Jasper, another rustler, show up looking for Laura. Before the men can deliver her to Butler, however, Bob engages them in a fierce fight. During the mêlée, Laura shoots Nimino, but Jasper rides away to warn Butler. Bob pursues the rustler into a rocky enclave and soon finds himself pinned down by the gang. Laura, meanwhile, rides to Rawhide for help, but he rejects her entreaties. Outraged by the rancher's stubborn indifference, Laura accuses him of being a heartless old man. Laura's words cause a change of heart in Rawhide, who then rallies his men to rescue Bob. While Rawhide and his hands round up the gang, Bob fights Butler, who is eventually shot by Rawhide. Later, Rawhide asks the departing Laura to remain in Arizona, but she insists she must go. Rawhide is equally determined to make her stay, however, and rides out on the stage with her. Suddenly concerned for his romantic future, Bob chases after his father.
Albert S. D'agostino
J. Roy Hunt
Charles F. Pyke
The Arizona Ranger
Tim Holt became a western star, just like his dad, and took great delight in his own abilities with the quick draw and precision with a bull whip. He worked with great directors, from King Vidor and John Ford, to Orson Welles and John Huston. After striking it big in B westerns, Holt got a dream role in RKO's prestige production of Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons in 1942 but thanks to problems between Welles' and the studio's editors and a little promoted release schedule, the movie didn't do much for Holt's career. Still, it proved he was capable of doing a lot more as an actor than most people knew. Later, in 1948, he starred in another masterpiece, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, this time directed by John Huston and co-starring Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston. The film was a huge critical and commercial success but, again, didn't do much for Holt's career in prestige productions. He immediately went back to starring in B westerns and that very year, teamed up with his father for the first time. Well, first time not counting his dad's cameo in Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The result was The Arizona Ranger.
The movie starts in 1898 as Rawhide Morgan (Jack Holt) and his ranch hand chase cattle rustlers off their Arizona ranch. Rawhide tries to find the leader of the gang, Quirt Butler (Steve Brodie), but loses the trail. Morgan's son, Bob (Tim Holt), is coming home again after spending time serving with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, and encounters Butler in town roughing up his wife. Bob and his friends defend her and a fight breaks out. Afterwards, Rawhide learns that Bob has joined the Arizona Rangers, a group of lawmen who will keep the peace in the western territory. Rawhide thinks the idea of people defending themselves works just fine and wants Bob to come home and work on the ranch but Bob is adamant about his responsibilities for bringing law and order to Arizona.
In The Arizona Ranger, Jack and Tim Holt got to play father and son for the first and last time. They did well together and had the kind of relationship that allowed them to be at odds onscreen since they were rarely at odds in real life. Jack had a reputation for being difficult to deal with if you were a producer but easy to work with if you were an actor. Tim didn't have any reputation for difficulty at all, nor did he have his father's strong jaw and masculine bravado and perhaps that's why they worked together so well; neither ever threatened the other's persona.
The movie was directed by B-action master John Rawlins, a man who understood every aspect of filmmaking and knew how to put together a B-picture better than most any A-list director could ever put together a big picture. He spent his career doing everything from script work to acting to stunt work to editing to gag writing. If there was a job at a Hollywood studio that needed to be filled quickly, chances are, Rawlins could do it. He makes The Arizona Ranger the enjoyable movie it is, as he did with everything he directed.
The movie also had some great talents helping out in the cast. Nan Leslie, who would become famous for The Californians, plays Quirt Butler's wife while Paul Hurst, who actually had real life experience in the old west, played Rawhide's ranch hand Ben.
Jack and Tim Holt didn't work together again. Jack died three years later and Tim's career took a downward turn once television took away most of the audience for B-westerns. He spent most of the remainder of his life doing rodeo work and managing a radio station. By the time they made The Arizona Ranger, they didn't know it, but neither had much time left in the movies. It's a lucky break for all of us that they made it when they did.
By Greg Ferrara
The Arizona Ranger
The working title of this film was Rawhide. The reviews and CBCS list Jack and Tim Holt's characters' surname as "Wade," but they are called "Morgan" in the film. Hollywood Reporter production charts add Jason Robards to the cast, but that actor did not appear in the final film. Some scenes were shot on location in Lone Pine, CA. Modern sources add Bud Osborne to the cast.