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The Fabulous Texan
Western

1947 | 4:3 ASPECT | BLACK AND WHITE | Quality: VERY GOOD

Wild Bill Elliot

John Carroll

Catherine McLeod


$9.99

Jim McWade (Wild Bill Elliott) and Wes Barker (John Carroll) are returning home to Hillsboro, Texas following the bloody Civil War, hoping for more peaceful days. Instead they find their hometown of Hillsboro (and indeed all of Texas) has fallen under a cruel military dictatorship in the form of the Texas State Police, headed up by Gibson Hart (Albert Dekker). Hillsboro itself is in the hands of the arrogant Colonel Jessup (Reed Hadley), and this spells big trouble for Barker who immediately butts heads with Jessup over Barker's father - a firebrand preacher that advocates rebellion against the state police. When the eccentric old preacher is gunned down, Carroll finds out it was Jessup who pulled the trigger. This sets off a series of reprisals that erupts into all-out rebellion with Barker as the leader of the cause. Friendly Bill Elliott is caught in the middle in several ways - first is the love triangle between himself, Carroll and the lovely Catherine McLeod - and then also he tries patiently to work within the system to help Barker out of his legal predicament. However, the life of an outlaw has many unexpected twists and turns, and things go off the rails in a hurry leading everyone with few options other than bloodshed.

Rarely shown and difficult to find, The Fabulous Texan was rather deluxe for low-budget Republic. The film was a vehicle to move Wild Bill Elliot into the A-List spot normally reserved for John Wayne. Edmund Grainger, who 17 years earlier helped launched Wayne's career, was brought back as producer and another Wayne collaborator, Edward Ludwig, was tapped to direct. The screenplay had to go through a number of revisions before the MPAA would finally approve it - the original story being based on the life of outlaw Sam Bass. The MPAA objected to the idea of glorifying a murderous criminal. Made during the emergence of the McCarthy Hearings in Hollywood, the film had quite a resonance when released. The Hollywood Reporter was particularly enthusiastic: "At a time when Hollywood films have become a football for Congressional investigations and those in quest of lurking isms, here is a picture with one kind of ism - Americanism."

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