LONE STAR deals with the annexation of Texas. It’s 1845 and the Republic has already been rebuffed three times by the United States. Our film opens with Devereaux Burke(Clark Gable) visiting Andrew Jackson’s(Lionel Barrymore in his final role) home in Memphis. A thirteen year old George Hamilton, minus that tan of course, plays his servant. Jackson wants Burke to go find Sam Houston(Moroni Olson), allegedly in Comanche territory. He wants Burke to find out if Houston is against annexation as reports claim. A man named Tom Craden is pushing for a treay with Mexico and no joining the Union.
Riding into Texas, he comes upon a man fleeing from a band of Comanche and joins in the fight. They talk as they huddle among rocks and fight the Comanche. The man he’d saved is Tom Craden(Broderick Crawford) himself and the man admits he’s looking for Burke to stop him. All of a sudden, his name is Bill Jones. A bit of hand-to-hand finishes the Comanche and the pair ride into Austin.
Burke is using his friendship to get inside and find Houston. Craden has an audacious plan. A treaty with Mexico will supposedly give them everything north of the Rio, including California and everything in between. It’s his intention to have a more powerful country than the United States and he plans to be President someday.
Ava Gardner is Martha Rhonda, a newspaperwoman who’s against annexation, her father and brothers fought Mexico ten years before, and seems to be a “friend” of Craden’s. But there’s an instant attraction between Burke and her, even though she believes he’s not completely honest.
Burke has men already in Austin ready to help. One of them is a portly Frenchman named Mizette(William Conrad). Snooping around, Burke learns that Houston is actually in Apache country working on a treaty. Burke heads there with Craden and a bunch in hot pursuit. Houston, when found, admits the peech and the treaty was all a ruse to get the Mexicans to hold off. Craden hears that and plans to kill Burke as he crosses the Pecos.
The two men have a friendly/adversarial relationship all through the picture. Just two Texans with different aims. They have several battles along the way with both desperately trying to kill each other, but when it comes right down to it.
The final battle is between Craden’s forces trying to stop the Texas Congress vote for annexation and Burke and his men, abetted by Texans on their side, trying to make sure it happens. It takes Sam Houston and a party of Apache, one of them a young brave that aided Burke in his ride to get a letter from Houston to the Congress before they could vote and ratify to Mexican treaty. His name is Geronimo.
For more overlooked movies, as always on Tuesday, check out Todd Mason over at his blog, Sweet Freedom.