Rip-roaring big star, big budget semi-historical story about cattle baron Devereaux Burke, who is enlisted by an aging Andrew Jackson to dissuade Sam Houston from establishing Texas as a republic. Burke must fight state senator Thomas Craden, in the process winning the heart of Craden's newspaper-editor girlfriend Martha Ronda.
Ex-President Andrew Jackson sends Texan Devereaux Burke back home on a mission to facilitate Sam Houston's drive for U.S. statehood.
There's enough of a story line and quite enough action to lift this Western above the average B programmer, but as another reviewer on this board points out, this one's not going to make it as a main eventer. What you have is a broad outline of the arguments, pro and con, of Texas becoming a part of the United States. Set in 1945 with Texas facing annexation, elements arise to conspire against that eventuality, with power brokers, led by Tom Craden (Broderick Crawford), attempting to set up their own Republic - "Why should we give up an empire just for statehood"?
For purposes of history, Clark Gable's character Deveraux Burke winds up on the right side of the story, but it's made fairly clear he's in it for personal gain as much as Craden is for his side. Between the two frontiersmen stands Martha Ronda (Ava Gardner), a journalist who seems to take on the character of her newspaper as the Austin Blade.
History buffs will likely relate to the character of Andrew Jackson, portrayed here by Lionel Barrymore. Pro-Union as they come, I was left scratching my head trying to figure out how his housekeeper Minnie (Beulah Bondi) beat Dev Burke to Austin. And for all of the emphasis given to Sam Houston's (Moroni Olsen) importance in deciding which way Texas would go, the character has only a minor on-screen presence in the story.
With all that, the picture is fairly watchable with a good mix of action, adventure, and the inevitable romantic entanglement among the principals - Gable, Gardner and Crawford. Others on this board have expressed a necessary suspension of disbelief with the conclusion to the story, but what the heck, haven't we seen that before? A somewhat underrated and dismissed western is MGM's LONE STAR. Produced in 1952 by Z. Wayne Griffen for the studio it isn't really that bad despite receiving only fair to mediocre reviews and lacking Technicolor which would have given it an added richness it could have perhaps done with. Nevertheless it is still an entertaining little western thanks mostly to to an engaging performance from Clark Gable in the leading role. This was the actor's first real attempt at a western. A genre the star rarely ventured into which is more the pity since he looked well astride a horse and tottin' a sixgun. Four years later he was in his best western effort in Fox's "The Tall Men". From a magazine story by Bordan Chase LONE STAR was nicely written for the screen by Chase and Harold Eastabrook, was crisply photographed in monochrome by Harold Rossen and had workmanlike direction by Vincent Sherman.
It is 1845 and the state of Texas is in turmoil. The people are divided. Some want Texas to be an independent state. Others want to secede to the union. Ex President Andrew Jackson (Lionel Barrymore) appoints cattleman and adventurer Devereaux Burke (Gable) to seek out Sam Houston (Moroni Olson) and obtain his support in joining the union. But hardened Texan Tom Craden (Brodrick Crawford) is totally against annexation and has many like minded followers who will oppose it by armed conflict if necessary. After Burke saves Craden from marauding Indians the two become friends and even vie with each other for the affections of Austin newspaper editor the lovely Martha Ronda (Ava Gardner). However when Craden hears who Burke is and learns of his intended mission the two sides go into battle on the streets of Austin (a well executed sequence) culminating in an excellent and exhaustive hand to hand fight scene between the two antagonists.
Performances are generally good throughout. Gable is his usual appealing self. His winning screen presence as engaging as ever. Good too is Crawford in that blustery style he was known for. And as always lovely to look at is the ravishing Ava Gardner. Also of some note is the terrific music score by David Buttolph. A prolific composer, arranger and conductor Buttolph was born in 1902 and arrived in Hollywood in the mid-thirties. He was an excellent and underrated composer! His voluminous output numbers over 200 films but he never gained the status or reputation of his more illustrious counterparts such as Newman, Rozsa, Steiner or Tiomkin. He worked mostly on a freelance basis between the major studios. At Fox he wrote memorable and striking title music for "Kiss Of Death" and "Boomerang" both 1947 and that same year would conceive what would become his masterpiece with his exceptional score for "The Foxes Of Harrow". Over at Warner Brothers he would often step into the shoes of Max Steiner when the busy resident composer was over committed. Some of his standout scores for Warners were "Colorado Territory" (1949) and the Randolph Scott westerns "Carson City" (1952) and his delightful music for "Westbound" in 1959. That same year he would put together an array of rousing cavalry songs in his score for the John Ford classic "The Horse Soldiers". For LONE STAR at MGM he wrote a robust and vigorous anthem for the emblem of the lone star state and alongside some vibrant action music the score also features an elegant, lyrical and attractive love theme fetchingly vocalized by Miss Gardner in one scene. David Buttolph died in 1983.
LONE STAR is not and never will be regarded as a classic western but it does have moments of real charm especially in the scenes with Gable and Gardner. So with its good production values, its engaging narrative together with an attractive cast it turns out just that little bit better than average. a5c7b9f00b
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