27 November 2000 | cariart
Flavorful Account of Birth of Texas!
The Turner cable-TV movie, 'Two for Texas' will undoubtedly be compared with 'James Michener's Texas', another made-for-TV production that covers much the same ground. But while 'Texas' suffers for attempting too much, becoming bogged down in melodramatic elements, 'Two for Texas' is a lean, rugged adventure that uses famous characters (Sam Houston, Jim Bowie) in support of the story, instead of as its focus, making this a FAR more enjoyable film!
The story begins in a chain gang in Louisiana. When one of the sadistic 'bosses' is accidentally murdered, two of the convicts (Kris Kristofferson and Scott Bairstow) escape, and head for Texas, hoping to start a new life, serving under General Sam Houston. The older of the pair, Hugh Allison (Kristofferson), in prison for killing a card shark, takes events as they come, with the easy grace of a 'survivor'; Son Holland (Bairstow), the younger man, left Tennessee for adventure, only to get ten years after being falsely accused of stealing a woman's purse.
En route to Houston, the pair become involved with an Indian party stealing horses for the Mexican army, and end up 'owning' a young Indian girl (Irene Bedard), who has a brief affair with Holland, before being sent back to her tribe.
The brother of the murdered boss relentlessly trails the pair, until they are 'rescued' by Houston's men. In the camp, they meet General Houston, portrayed with quiet authority by Tom Skerritt, and Jim Bowie (a miscast but likable Peter Coyote). Bowie and Allison are old hell-raising friends, and, in one of the film's more light-hearted scenes, recount a few of the more famous tales of the inventor of the famous knife! Bowie is leaving for the Alamo, but asks the pair to remain with Houston, as the Texas army trains for battle.
With the fall of the Alamo eminent, Allison and Holland decide to join their friend Bowie, but arrive too late; the mission is a scene of carnage, with hundreds of bodies scattered among the ruins. Watching Texans' bodies being unceremoniously burned, they encounter Susannah Dickinson (Karey Green), wife of one of the defenders, who tells of the final assault, and the death of Davy Crockett. She carries a letter for Sam Houston from General Santa Anna, and after taking the men to the body of Jim Bowie (a sadly moving scene, as Allison retrieves Bowie's knife), the trio return to Houston's forces...and the two men begin a journey towards their destiny!
The story is not without historical flaws, particularly concerning Mrs. Dickinson, but the film never loses momentum, and benefits from Kristofferson's craggy charm, as the plain-spoken Allison. This is the kind of role he does best, and he plays it to the hilt!
'Two for Texas' is a welcome addition to the select group of films about the Alamo, and Texas' struggle for independence!