The Texans Reviews
Meanwhile, Texans suffer grievously under Reconstruction. The Scott character is the only individual who isn't reluctant to forget about the war and embark on a new life. At one point, the Scott hero states that he knew some good Yankees during the war and has decided to let bygones be bygones. The theme of change and how these former Confederates struggle to change with the times lies at the heart of action. When they aren't herding cattle, contending with carpetbaggers, and battling Comanche Indians, Scott and Bennett are battling with each other. As a carpetbagger who isn't easily dispensed with until he meets his match, Robert Barrat plays greedy Isaiah Middlebrack. He pursues the Confederates when they smuggles guns into the region and later goes after them with a troop of U.S. Cavalry when they try to take ten-thousand cattle to Mexico. "Ebb Tide" scenarists Bertram Millhauser, "Geronimo" scribe Paul Sloane, and "Black Legion" writer William Wiser Haines adapted author Emerson Hough's novel "North of '36." Mind you, these characters are every bit as desperate as John Wayne and company were in "Red River," but Scott doesn't have somebody like Montgomery Cliff to contend with and a secondary character dispatches the chief villain before Scott can finish him.
"The Texans" opens at a river landing in Indianola, Texas, in 1865, where paddler wheelers are unloading cargo and supplies. The defeated Confederate soldiers are informed that they are still classified as the enemy until they shed their southern uniforms. In fact, the Union authorities refuse to let the men in gray pass the toll gate until they change clothing. Meanwhile, Ivy Preston (Joan Bennett of "The Woman in the Window") is driving a wagon laden with boxes of farm implements when a Union sergeant halts her so he can inspect her cargo. Kirk Jordan (Randolph Scott of "The Last of the Mohicans") spots the cargo and knows that the boxes contain weapons instead of tools. He helps Ivy get out of town before the Union authorities can poke around in those boxes. While Ivy delivers the weapons to Confederate Captain Alan Sanford (Robert Cummings of "Saboteur"), Kirk has to fork over ten acres of land to buy an ill-fitting suit of clothes. Ivy returns to Indianola to pick up her grandmother, Granna (May Robson of "Bringing Up Baby"), and Granna's ranch foreman Chuckawalla (Walter Brennan of "Red River"), so they can all return to their sprawling ranch Boca Grande on the border.
Everybody else seems pretty tame until these two show up, and Robson and Brennan steal the show. Brennan's character is intrigued with locomotives because he has never seen a train and wonders where they put the engines after dark. Granna is a headstrong woman with pioneering blood who refuses to buckle under any adversary. The two characters provide most of the comic relief in "The Texans," but the comedy doesn't overwhelm the drama. Kirk has to save Ivy's bacon again when the Union authorities, principally Middlebrack (Robert Barrat of "Baby Face"), arrests her and questions her not only about the stolen firearms but also a renegade Confederate officer Sanford. Granna has no use for Middlebrack. "There wouldn't be no enemy if there were scum of the earth like you. You with your plundering, murderous reconstruction." A riot enables our hero and heroine to escape from Indianola, and they ride back to Ivy's Boca Grande Ranch. The Preston women own ten-thousand cattle, and Ivy wants to drive the herd to Mexico to feed Southern troops working with Maximilian. Things, however, don't work out for Sanford. He eludes death in Mexico only to find himself back in Texas where the authorities want him for treason. Ivy upsets Kirk to no end when she announces that Sanford and she are engaged to be married.
The scheming Middlebrack decides to let bygones be bygones with regard to the stolen rifles. Nevertheless, he saddles up with a detachment of Union cavalry and rides out to Boca Grande. He informs the Prestons about the new tax on cattle. While they are plying Middlebrack with liquor and food, Ivy strums a guitar and sings a coded song to Granna about taking the cattle away. Middlebrack plans to count the steers the following morning, but Granna drinks him under the table and Kirk leads the herd out. Middlebrack wastes no time when he recovers and chases them. Middlebrack dies during an Indian attack when Kirk's cohort, Cal Tuttle (Raymond Hatton of "Undersea Kingdom"), kills him with his tomahawk. Of course, we don't see Middlebrack bit the dust. Not only does this diminish the statue of his villain, but also it undercuts "The Texans."