Cast & Crew
While rounding up horses, cowboy Tex Haines is stopped by Bart Rawlins, who informs him that he is trespassing on land now owned by John Rankin's stage line. When Tex insists that the land still belongs to his boss, Peggy Barlow, Bart and his men pursue Tex with guns blasting. Tex is aided in his escape by Dave Wyatt, who is camping in the area with his partner, Panhandle Perkins. A grateful Tex offers Dave and Panhandle work at Peggy's Tin Cup ranch, explaining that ever since Rankin started his stage line, the local ranchers have been fighting his violent encroachment on their land. At the Tin Cup, meanwhile, Rankin tells Peggy that his state-sanctioned stage contract gives him the rightaway through a section of her land. Rankin offers to buy the Tin Cup for $10,000, and when Peggy refuses to sell, he threatens her with a lawsuit. Later, Tex informs Dave and Panhandle that, as their pleas for help from the Texas Rangers have gone unanswered, the local ranchers are taking matters into their own hands. Dave cautions Tex against vigilante justice, but the next day, at a ranchers' meeting at Jim Manning's trading post, a deputy serves Peggy with papers ordering her eviction in ten days. When Peggy's foreman, Dan Brown, tries to show the deputy a protest petition he and others are planning to present to the governor, Rankin accuses him of going for his gun. In the mêlée, Rankin's bodyguard, Bill Dugan, shoots and kills Dan, and Tex shoots Dugan. Although Manning publicly condemns the incident, he later confers with Rankin about eliminating Tex in order to cinch their secret land scheme. The next day, the sheriff, having heard Manning's version of events, goes to arrest Tex for Dugan's murder. Tex eludes capture, however, and holes up in a hideout. Soon after, Panhandle and Peggy deliver food to Tex and learn that Tex plans to ambush Rankin as he is returning from a trip to the capital. Panhandle reports the news to Dave, who like Panhandle is actually a Texas Ranger, and together they plot to foil Tex's attack. Disguised and armed, Dave intercepts Rankin's stagecoach ahead of Tex and takes all the papers Rankin is carrying. The papers indicate that Rankin and an unnamed partner are planning to sell all the land in the area to a syndicate. Aware that Rankin himself has little money with which to buy out the ranchers, Dave speculates that Manning must be his partner and sends Panhandle to Oak Flats to investigate. Dave then goes to talk to Peggy and, upon finding Tex with her, asks the cowboy to return to his hideout. When Tex refuses, Dave tries to make a citizen's arrest, and the two men fight. Just then, Bart shows up to arrest Tex, prompting Dave to reveal his identity as a Ranger and to declare that a grand jury is going to investigate Rankin. Bart defers to Dave's authority, but while Dave is taking Tex to jail, Bart races to town to report to Rankin. At the stage line offices, meanwhile, Panhandle, whom Rankin has never seen, is posing as a representative of the land syndicate and insists that Rankin's partner sign the contract. Rankin takes Panhandle to Manning's office, but before the Ranger can get his hands on the signed contract, Bart arrives and exposes him. Confident that they can still evict Peggy, complete the land deal and flee the country before the grand jury hearing, Manning and Rankin order Bart to kill Panhandle while they go to the Tin Cup. Panhandle manages to outsmart the slow-witted Bart, however, and leads him at gunpoint to the jail. There, Tex tricks Dave into giving up the jailhouse keys, and when Panhandle arrives with Bart, Tex is preparing to escape. After learning about Manning and Rankin's plans, Tex decides to join forces with Dave and Panhandle, and aided by the sheriff, the three men arrive at the Tin Cup in time to prevent Peggy's eviction. Rankin and Manning then try to flee, but are apprehended and arrested by Dave and Panhandle. Later, their job done, Dave and Panhandle bid Tex and Peggy a fond farewell.
The film's title card reads: "Tex Ritter and Dave O'Brien as 'The Texas Rangers' in Three in the Saddle." Onscreen credits include the following written foreword: "Dedicated to the law officers of the Old West, who led the fight for law and order in the pioneer days of this country in 1880." Although two songs are listed in the onscreen credits, only "I've Done the Best I Could" was heard in the viewed print. Modern sources add Frank Ellis, Bob Duncan, Jimmy Aubrey, Ray Henderson, Art Fowler and Herman Hack to the cast. Three in the Saddle was the last of the "Texas Rangers" series, that began in 1942. For more information on the series, consult the Series Index and for The Rangers Take Over.