1956’s “The First Texan” is a star vehicle for one of the biggest Western stars ever — Joel McCrea. If you like Joel McCrea, you’ll love this movie. It’s an hour and 22 minutes long, and McCrea is on screen for about an hour and 19 minutes.
McCrea stars as Sam Houston, who resigns, in disgrace, as governor of Tennessee and moves to Texas to start a new life. He is immediately called to join those who would fight for Texas’ independence from Mexico, and though he resists, the end result is inevitable, and pushed along by an in-person request to help from President Andrew Jackson.
I really enjoyed Abraham Sofaer as Don Carlos — a small role that offered a little comic relief. And there is also, of course, the beautiful young love interest, played here by Felicia Farr. I won’t share the outcome, but if you’ve ever seen a 1950s Western, you may be able to guess.
The title more or less gives away the ending, but it’s a fun journey to watch, with enough twists and turns to hold your interest and a nice battle scene, showing the best of 1956’s special effects, at the end.
There are a few personal notes about this movie I’d like to share. First, it was filmed about a mile from my house, so it was fun to see the Texas army marching over my hiking trails. Even more fun, I watched the movie, outside, on the Joel McCrea Ranch, sitting with his grandson and my good friend, Wyatt McCrea. I hope those sitting next to us in Wyatt’s backyard didn’t mind all of the tidbits and insider stories that Wyatt shared throughout the movie. I know I didn’t.
Even if you don’t get to watch it on the McCrea Ranch, or be given a personal historical narrative by Wyatt, I think you’ll find watching “The First Texan” to be a pleasant way to spend an evening.