27 June 2011 | bkoganbing
Good Western, but not the real story of the Texas State Police
The real story of the Texas State Police is hardly the one told here. It was formed by the carpetbagger Reconstruction government of Texas and the big objection that Texans had to it was that it employed black officers of the law. But you will not see a black face in this entire film. The Fabulous Texan presents a pre-Civil Rights era view of Reconstruction that is generally discarded today.
However the film is a great epic western as Herbert J. Yates apparently was trying to use Wild Bill Elliott in more big budget items normally reserved for John Wayne. Elliott and John Carroll play a couple of Confederate veterans returning from the Civil War and find that their area and all of Texas is in the hands of a military dictator in Albert Dekker and specifically their area is in the hands of Reed Hadley. Dekker has founded and Hadley is the local commander of the Texas State Police founded to impose their will on a recalcitrant population.
When we first meet Hadley he's telling newspaper editors Andy Devine and Ruth Donnelly that the government objects to their editorial policy. Hadley also finds out that Carroll is the son of minister Harry Davenport whose sermons against Dekker's rule are also frowned upon. As the USA was just finished fighting a war against such dictators The Fabulous Texan I'm sure found a resonating audience in 1947.
When Davenport is murdered, Carroll in turn settles that account with Hadley and he starts to gather a gang of outlaws. Friend Bill Elliott is caught in the middle and throughout the film tries patiently to work within the system. Elliott also turns outlaw for awhile, but Reconstruction does end things do right themselves, but not without a lot of blood.
The storyline of The Fabulous Texan is borrowed liberally from the 20th Century Fox classic Jesse James. Personally I think Darryl Zanuck could have sued Yates, but possibly he felt flattered. No doubt that Bill Elliott was trying to break into the A picture market the way John Wayne did, but he never quite had that career.
Despite it not being historically valid, The Fabulous Texan does make for real good western entertainment.