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Western films, from silent to today

Three Young Texans (1954)

Three Young Texans (1954) posterJeffrey Hunter is a hard-working cowboy named Johnny Colt, who stashes away every cent he earns in hopes of restocking his father’s ranch after a drought wiped out their herd.

His friends include the far more carefree Tony Ballew (Keefe Brasselle), who’s more prone to lose his earnings at a gambling table; and fiesty Rusty Blair (Mitzi Gaynor), who turns the heads of both young men in spite of her tomboyish tendencies.

But right now, Johnny’s biggest problem isn’t vying Tony for Rusty’s affection. It’s his father, who routinely travels south of the border to play poker, hoping to win a stake that will restore his family’s financial security.

When a dispute over cheating breaks out, Jim Colt guns down one of the other card players. The only other men at the table are members of the Apache Joe Gang. Knowing Jim works for the railroad, they give him an option: Help them rob a train of a $50,000 payroll, or be turned in for murder.

But Johnny overhears the plans and decides he’ll rob the train first to keep his old man out of trouble. Then, when the smoke has cleared, he’ll return the loot.

Problem is, Tony quickly guesses who robbed the train and where Johnny stashed the stolen money. And Tony figures this is his one and only shot to make a quick $50,000.

Review:

A Western that unfortunately comes off more like a pilot for a bad Western TV series.

Poor Mitzi Gaynor, out of her normal song-and-dance element, is asked to pull off some really silly lines in her only appearance in a Western.

Jeffrey Hunter fairs a bit better, but it’s hard to figure out what the Tony Ballew character is thinking and the film wastes it’s one unique plot twist — having Johnny rob the train before the real outlaws can.

One note of interest: A young Aaron Spelling — yep, the soon-to-be-famous TV producer — has a prominent role as Catur, a member of the Apache Joe Gang that no viewer is likely to root for.

Mitzi Gaynor as Rusty Blair, Jeffrey Hunter as Johnny Colt and Keefe Brasselle as Tony Ballew in Three Young Texans (1954)Directed by:
Henry Levin

Cast:
Mitzi Gaynor … Rusty Blair
Jeffrey Hunter … Johnny Colt
Keefe Brasselle … Tony Ballew
Harvey Stephens … Jim Colt
Dan Riss … Sheriff Carter
Michael Ansara … Apache Joe
Aaron Spelling … Catur
Morris Ankrum … Jeff Blair
Frank Wilcox … Bill McAdoo
Helen Wallace … Martha Colt

Runtime: 77 min.

Memorable lines:

Jim Colt, about his gambling: “I lost everything sudden like. I intend to get it back the same way.”

Jeffrey Hunter as Johnny Colt in the hand of two of Apache Joe's men, including (right) Aaron Spelling as Catur in Three Young Texans (1954)Rusty Blair, about the robbery: “Why’d you do it, Johnny?”
Johnny Colt: “I had my reasons.”
Rusty: “That hurts, Johnny. That really hurts.”

Rusty Blair, when Johnny and Tony argue over what to do with the stolen money: “Maybe I’m not too smart, because I’m just a little confused.”

Jim Colt: “Look, Tony, try thinking back a few days. We had $700 to start a new herd and no trouble with the law. Everything was fine. The only real trouble we had was who gets Rusty. It was a good life, Tony, and like Rusty said, we can still go back to it.”

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