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Texas Stagecoach

(aka "Two Roads" and "Texas Express")

 

Columbia Pictures Corporation

Production Dates: December 12 - 31, 1939

Release Date: 1940 05 23

Running Time: 59 minutes (6 reels)

Production (Key Book) Number: 326

Location: the Columbia lot

 

Credits

Cast

Songs

Plot Summary

Production & Publicity Stills

Posters

Movie Block

This movie is available on DVD.

 

Texas Stagecoach is the story of two desert stagecoach lines whose owners live in friendly rivalry until they become pawns in another's crooked game. The photography is imaginative and scenes are often shot through a wagon wheel. Bob Nolan has an excellent part which includes a fight scene with Starrett most of which he did without a stunt double. He had also practiced his fast draw. A believable performance.

 

 

 

 

 

Songs:

Tumbling Tumbleweeds (Bob Nolan) under credits

Roll On with the Texas Express (Glenn & Tim Spencer)

Hill Country (Glenn Spencer)

Finale

 

 

Cast:

 

Charles Starrett as Larry Kinkaid, Iris Meredith as Jean Harper and Bob Nolan as Bob Harper, Jean's brother

 

Left: Edward LeSaint as Jim Kinkaid, Larry's father.

Centre: Dick Curtis as Shoshone Larsen

Right: Kenneth MacDonald as John Appleby

 

Others is the Cast:

The Sons of the Pioneers work for the Harpers.

Lillian Leighton as the little old lady in the stagecoach.

George Becinita as the Apache

Don Beddoe as Tug Wilson

Harry Cording as Clancy

Fred Burns as the Sheriff

George Chesebro as a gunman

 

Plot:

            The scene opens with Bob Harper driving a stagecoach carrying a single passenger, a little old lady, while Pat Brady rides shotgun and the Sons of the Pioneers ride behind. The two men are singing Roll On with the Texas Express with the Pioneers joining in on the chorus.

 

 

 

            The passenger decides to open her bulging lunch basket and, somehow, the ever-hungry Pat Brady smells the roast chicken from his seat on top of the coach. He upends himself to take a peek through the window and then he follows his nose.

 

 

            Pat smiles ingratiatingly at the passenger who shows him her tantalizing lunch and then, as he helps himself, slams the lid down on his fingers.

 

 

            Larry Kinkaid catches up in his own stagecoach and calls out a challenge to Bob. The two men are immediately and joyfully caught up in a race.

 

 

            During the ensuing race (there is some superb four-in-hand driving here by Starrett's and Nolan's stunt doubles), the two passengers are thrown around inside the coach. Pat, grasping his opportunity - and the chicken - gobbles up as much as he can while the passenger is occupied with holding onto her hat and her seat. Larry wins the race, of course, but Bob doesn't mind because they are good friends and it's all in fun.

 

 

            As Bob opens the door for his passenger, the rest of the Harper crew dismount and gather 'round. Pat steps out with the passenger's basket and accidentally hands it to her upside-down, emptying her lunch into the dust. The passenger is disgusted, Pat is discomfited and everyone else is delighted including Bob's beautiful sister, Jean Harper, who has just stepped out of the office to meet the stage.

 

 

            Larry teases them both and then heads for his own office and his father, Jim. Jim has a visitor, Shoshone Larsen, a man who has just dropped in to give him the idea of building a road to the nearby town of Kingman, a boom town. They would, he assures them, make a pile of money. Larry wonders aloud what is in it for Larsen and Larsen tells him that he will be in charge of the road construction for them. Jim thinks this is an excellent idea.

 

 

            Coincidentally, back in the Harper's office, Jean is discussing the same thing with Bob but she has been given the idea by John Appleby, the banker, who has offered to lend them the construction money. Bob is reluctant to go so far into debt but Jean has already given her word so Bob is persuaded to trust his sister's judgment.

 

 

            The Harpers leave and Larsen enters Appleby's office. The wily banker puts his plan into action. Larsen is actually in his pay and he has been hired to cause trouble between Larry and Bob by lying to them about each other. If the two outfits can destroy each other, Appleby can pick up the pieces and own both stage companies.

 

 

            Just as the Harpers start loading their wagons to start their road construction, Pat Brady bursts into their office with the news that Larry Kinkaid has heard about their plans and is trying to beat them into Kingman. At the same time, Larsen interrupts Larry and his father to tell them that the Harpers have heard about their plan and are going to sneak into Kingman ahead of them. Larry doesn't believe it but his father is furious. They watch Bob and his crew pull out in a wagon and Larsen runs for his own.

 

 

            He whips up his team, beats Bob to the site, jumps out with his gun leveled and orders the Harper crew to leave. While he's talking, Pat sneaks up behind him and distracts him. Bob quickly disarms Larsen and draws his own gun [A very fast draw. Bob has obviously practiced long at this.] Now Bob tells Larsen to go back and warn the Kinkaids off. The Pioneers turn the wagon over into a ditch and Larsen smiles to himself. Things are going according to plan.

 

 

            Larsen immediately reports to Larry and Jim and, to his immense satisfaction, Larry's feisty, illogical and bull-headed little father takes a shotgun off the wall. Larry persuades him that it's not a killing matter, strides out the door and enters the Harper's office where Jean and Appleby are planning the new route. Larry warns her that he's going to beat them into Kingman.

 

 

            Later in the evening, Jean shows Bob and Pat the new horses she bought on the advice of Appleby, then she starts home to prepare supper. Bob and Pat enter the barn and are knocked out by several men who steal the new horses. To put the blame on Larry Kinkaid, Larsen dresses like him, rides a white stallion making sure that Jean has a good clear look at him. Jean rushes to help Bob and tells him what she saw. Bob finds it hard to believe but starts after the thieves.

 

 

            The next day, Jean steps out of the office to look for Bob and the Pioneers and sees Larry checking his horses. Larry attempts a smile but she snubs him and goes back into the office. After a moment's indecision, he follows her and tells her he's sorry her horses were stolen but Bob and the Pioneers enter the office right then. Bob accuses Larry of stealing them and slaps him hard across the face. A fight ensues with Bob losing [Bob Nolan does the most of the fight scene himself.] The Pioneers watch in shocked silence as these two good friends brutally punch each other.

 

 

            Larry leaves and goes directly to his own office where he asks his father to find another driver for him. He tells him that he's been accused of stealing Harper's horses and is going to look for them. His father offers to drive the stage himself this turn around. Larry finds an Apache and bargains with him to trail the horses. They find the thieves, drive off the horses and bring both thieves and horses back into town. Jean tries to apologize but Larry snubs her in his turn.

 

 

 

            The Kinkaid stagecoach arrives with his wounded father. As he checks the wound, Larry asks what happened and is told that masked men held them up and burned the relay station. Jean, listening from outside the door, hears his father accuse her brother of leading the masked men and she breaks into their conversation with a furious denial. Larry asks her to leave, ties up his father's arm and then makes him promise not to hire any gunfighters.

 

 

            Meanwhile, out at the construction site, Bob is driving a stoneboat where he is working with the Pioneers plus others of the crew. Pat is stirring up some batter and listening to the various sounds, finally deciding to add his beating to the syncopated rhythm he hears. Bob, coming in for a drink and hearing the rhythm, too, starts to sing Hill Country. The crew downs implements and joins in.

 

 

            Shortly after that, Larry finds his father in the process of hiring a gunfighter. He has also sent Larsen out to break up Harper's construction camp. Larry argues that they still weren't sure that Harper's were behind the raid and sets out to stop Larsen and his villains. He catches up with them as they are shooting at the Harper crew, orders them to desist and sends them back. He  accuses Bob of raiding their stage line and leaves.

 

 

            The Harper crew (other than the Pioneers) decide that they weren't hired to be shot at and they try to quit. Bob promises he will hire professional gunfighters to protect them and they reluctantly go back to work.

 

 

            When Larry gets back to the office, he finds his father in conversation with Larsen. He asks Larsen why he isn't building road, and why not even a mile of construction work has been done. Larsen is fired and Larry takes over the construction job.

 

 

            The first thing he finds is a homesteader's shack across his path and the homesteader refuses to sell him right of way.

 

 

            He immediately suspects Harpers and tears out to their camp. He finds Iris there, too. She has just brought Bob the bad news that there is no money for the payroll because Appleby won't lend them any.

 

 

            When Larry accuses them of planting the fake homesteader in his right of way, Bob denies it vehemently. Pat makes an idiotic remark that breaks them all up. They laugh and the tension is broken.

 

 

            Harper's construction crew comes marching into the picture again with their leader, Clancy, demanding their wages. Bob promises them double their wages to complete the small section of road left to be built. Larry listens to Iris present their case to the men and realizes there's been more to the whole mess than meets the eye.

 

 

            Larry roughs Clancy up a bit and sends him away, makes his peace with the Harpers. They realize finally that it has been to someone else's advantage to set the two companies against each other and decide to work together again to solve the mystery.

 

 

            Back in town, Larry's father reads a foreclosure sign and smiles. Appleby is foreclosing on the Harpers which is to the Kinkaid's advantage. Then, his smile disappears as he overhears Larsen laughing with Appleby about how they'd arranged it all. He barges in on them, threatens them with exposure and rides out to tell Larry.  Appleby idly mentions to Larsen that it might be a good idea if Jim never met his son. Larsen leaves and ambushes the old man who recognizes him before he dies and, with his finger, sketches an "L" and an "A" in the dirt.

 

 

            Hearing the shot, Larry and the Harpers arrive too late and find the body of Jim Kinkaid. Bob notices the two letters he scratched in the dirt before he died but thinks the old man intended writing the word "Larry".

 

 

            Larry leaves Hugh with the body and both outfits head for town. Larsen has reported back to Appleby and Appleby orders him to lie low in the hills until it blows over. Larsen departs, leaving his riding crop behind. [Now this riding crop has been part of Larsen throughout the film. In every scene we see him smacking it against his palm.] 

            The Harpers and Larry ride into town and Jean sees the foreclosure notice for the first time. Bob rips it down and breaks in on Appleby to demand an explanation. Larry and the Pioneers follow. Larry idly picks up Larsen's crop as he asks the banker if he will now be in the stage business. The banker tries to bluff it out but Larry recognizes the crop and realizes for the first time that Larsen and Appleby are allied. He sets off after Larsen.

 

 

            Jean and Bob walk into their office and try to make new plans for Larry's company but the homesteader is still blocking them. Jean thinks aloud that nobody can hold a homestead without a building on it and she and Bob hatch up a plan to remove the building with the homesteader in it. The two of them, with the help of the Pioneers, sneak up to the homesteader's shack under cover of darkness, bringing boards and hammers with them. They each position themselves with their boards by windows and door and, when Jean gives the word, they all hammer the boards into place at once. Before the homesteader is even properly awake, he's boarded into his shack which is being dragged by a team of horses to an out-of-the-way place.

 

 

            While all this is going on, Starrett has been tracking Larsen. They exchange shots and, finally, Larry runs out of ammunition. Larsen tells him to drop his gun and then attempts to shoot him in cold blood - until he discovers he is out of cartridges himself. A rough and tumble ensues and Starrett takes the killer back to town.

 

 

            Bob, Jean and the boys drive into town to find a new sign over their office with Appleby making a speech to the crowd. Jean accuses him of swindling them and he assures her that she has no proof. Just then, Larry returns with Larsen who has confessed and Larry takes him to the sheriff on a murder charge.

 

 

            The film ends with Bob driving a stagecoach again but this time, a newly-married Larry and Jean Kinkaid are his passengers and the Sons of the Pioneers sing Roll On with the Texas Express

 

  

           


 

Professional stills:

 

 

 

 

Charles Starrett, Bob Nolan, Karl Farr, Iris Meredith, Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer

 

 

Private Collection

 

Pat Brady, Dick Curtis, Tim Spencer, Hugh Farr, Bob Nolan, Karl Farr and Lloyd Perryman

 

Hugh Farr, Tim Spencer, Lloyd Perryman, Bob Nolan and Pat Brady

Visible actors: Iris Meredith, Charles Starrett, Karl Farr and Hugh Farr.

 

Bob Nolan, Charles Starrett, Lloyd Perryman, Tim Spencer, Hugh Farr and Pat Brady.

 


 

Posters:

(courtesy of Les Adams)

 

 

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant

 

 

Movie Block