- X 2019
King of the Texas Rangers
directed by William Witney, John English
starring Sammy Baugh, Neil Hamilton, Pauline Moore, Duncan Renaldo, Charles Trowbridge, Herbert Rawlinson, Frank Darien, Rudolph Anders (as Robert O. Davis), Monte Blue, Stanley Blystone, Kermit Maynard, Roy Barcroft, Kenne Duncan, Jack Ingram, Robert Barron, Frank Bruno, Monte Montague, Joseph Forte, Lucien Prival, John Bagni, Bobby Barber, Ed Cassidy, Jack Chapin, Iron Eyes Cody, Eddie Dew, Bud Geary, Alan Gregg, Henry Hall, Howard Hughes, John James, Jerry Jerome, William Kellogg, Michael Owen, Buddy Roosevelt, Ernest Sarracino, Dick Simmons, Max Waizmann
written by Ronald Davidson, Norman S. Hall, William Lively, Joseph O'Donnell, Joseph F. Poland, music by Cy Feuer
It's 1941, and the USA hasn't yet entered World War II, but there's
talks that foreign forces collectively known as the Fifth Columnists have
already infiltrated the USA and now try to sabotage whatever it is. Texas
Ranger King sr (Monte Blue) has collected the names of the Fifth
Columnists though and now wants to hand the list over to his superiors ...
and is killed in the line of duty. Upon this, King's football star son Tom
(Sammy Baugh) puts down his football and becomes a Texas Ranger himself -
and with the help of his girlfriend Sally Crane (Pauline Moore), who was a
sort-of witness to the murder of his father, he soon discovers a clue ...
that leads him to Mexico, where technically he has no authority - but when
he runs into Mexican lawman Pedro Garcia (Duncan Renaldo), Garcia proves
to be more than happy to have a partner from the other side of the border,
and they soon work together in both countries.
It soon becomes clear the
Fifth Columnists want to cripple the USA's defense efforts, especially by
sabotaging the Dobe Hills Oil Company. So first they burn an oilfield -
and almost kill Sally in the process. Then they try to kill Professor
Nelson (Joseph Forte), who has developed a new airplane fuel, by blowing
up a tunnle his train goes through. He's saved by Tom though, upon which
the Fifth Columnists first try to kidnap him, then try to prove his fuel
is highly dangerous - which almost costs Tom and Sally their lives during
a test flight when they learn they've got a timebomb on board. But all
adds up to nothing, the fuel is approved by the gouvernment anyhow, upon
which the Fifth Columnists try to pollute the oil from Dobe Hills'
refineries. Of course, Tom and Pedro manage to spoil their plans once
again, and with the evidence they collect at the oilfield, they have their
first vital clue to the Fifth Columnists - to the result that they retreat
to Mexico, but not without taking Sally hostage - who's of course freed by
our heroes in no time, but not without mortal danger.
Why Tom and Pedro
are unable to really crack down on the Fifth Columnists though is easily
explained, Barton (Neil Hamilton), one of the higher-ups in the Dobe Hills
Oil Company, is actually an infiltrator, and always having info on the
Rangers' moves, he can always warn his allies, who fly in a dirigible high
above town. Eventually, Barton's found out though and has to flee, while
his allies still try to blow up a dam ... and fail, thanks to King of
course. Barton makes it to the dirigible, but Tom and Pedro are hot on his
heels, and first they try to shoot the dirigible out of the sky, but when
that doesn't work, they crash their own airplane into it, bailing out at
only the very last moment, to make a perfect happy ending.
as much is true, Sammy Baugh is not the greatest of actors, nor the most
charismatic of leading men, he was an American football star in his day,
and the production pretty much rides on his fame. But he comes across as
disappointingly wooden and colourless, especially when sharing the screen
with later Cisco Kid Duncan Renaldo. Also, being that the
USA was on the brink of entering World War II, it seems at least from
today's point of view weird that the "foreign power"
infiltrating US soil is never called by name, and efforts are made to keep
All that said, King of the Texas Rangers is a pretty
exciting serial though: The action never lets up and is well-staged, the
story pushes forward all the time, and even though the plot is simplistic,
it does hold its surprises and is full of fairly original ideas. And
things remain very tense throughout. Definitely worth a watch for serial
enthusiasts and those looking for a good introduction to the genre.