18 August 2005 | krorie
Tex Hangs Up His Guns
"Flaming Bullets" was the last and one of the best entries in the Texas Rangers series, PRC's version of Republic's Three Mesquiteers and Monogram's Rough Riders and Range Busters. The Texas Rangers at first consisted of Jim Newill, Dave "Tex" O'Brien, and Guy Wilkerson. Tex Ritter replaced Newill for the last eight films. What a combination! This new trio was successful partly because each member was so versatile. Tex Ritter was no ordinary Hollywood singing cowboy. He was the real thing. Rather than Hollywood ditties, Tex usually sang authentic songs of the Old West. He was a college-educated folklorist with depth and character. Dave "Tex" O'Brien started out as a song-and-dance man then made many B movies, his most successful being the lead role in the serial "Captain Midnight." With him in the serial was Guy Wilkerson. Dave went on to be a popular writer and actor in the Pete Smith specials. Then he won an Emmy for his writing contributions to the Red Skelton TV show! Added to this was an assortment of the meanest bad guys in the movies. Since The Texas Rangers series was very low budget, plenty of ridin', fightin', and shootin' was thrown in which provided lots of action. Though Tex Ritter hung up his guns after this movie, he went on to become a successful country and western singer and a grand ole man of Nashville, second only to Roy Acuff. He died a noble death, bailing a friend out of jail.
"Flaming Bullets" has a good story too. Outlaws are busting prisoners with prices on their heads out of jail, shooting them dead during the escape, then collecting the reward money. The Texas Rangers are determined to put a stop to this. Dave poses as a most wanted fugitive lookalike to flush the bad guys out. Patricia Knox has a good role as a dance hall gal who tries to help Dave, thinking he is her outlaw lover.
Not only do you get two Tex's in this flick but you also get two comical sidekicks. Guy Wilkerson (Panhandle Perkins) teams with the indomitable Charles King (Porky Smith) in sort of a two stooges combination (like say Moe and Larry). Porky is supposed to get in a fight with potential customers for Panhandle, who is plying his trade as a dentist, and knock them into his dentist chair. Porky is unsuccessful when he is knocked into the chair. Toward the end of the movie the entire cast, even the outlaws, get involved in a comic routine when laughing gas is released during a fight.
I enjoy the Tex Ritter films for several reasons but one is on a personal note. When I was about six years old I saw Tex perform in person. He put on an entertaining show. He sang with a full band and then had his horse, White Flash, brought up on stage to do tricks. The real White Flash would have been too old to perform at this time so I'm sure it was another trained horse. Tex also involved the audience. His most requested song was "Rye Whiskey."