Cast & Crew
In 1843, former president Andrew Jackson asks Texas cattleman and long-time compatriot Devereaux Burke to help prevent the Republic of Texas from signing a treaty with Mexico and, instead, agree to annexation by the United States. Dev claims that he now has no interest in politics, but agrees to help Jackson, who fears that the treaty will undermine the Union, if he is awarded the contract to supply beef for troops needed in a possible war with Mexico. Jackson agrees and asks Dev to find Texas pioneer Sam Houston, who has recently spoken against annexation but is now living among the Indians. Jackson also warns Dev about opposition leader Thomas Craden, a wealthy Austin rancher. On his way to Austin, where he is to meet Jackson's loyal old friend, Minniver Bryan, Dev is attacked by Comanche and is only able to save himself with the aid of a passing rider. Dev, who does not mention his name, is startled when the stranger, whom he immediately likes, says that he is Tom Craden. The two arrive in Austin just as Luther Kilgore, a close friend of Dev and Jackson, is making an impassioned speech against the Mexican treaty. In order to defray the growing antagonism in the crowd, Dev shoots Luther in the arm. Tom, who is impressed by Dev's action, introduces him to Martha Ronda, a Texas patriot who runs the Austin newspaper and is loved by Tom. Dev is immediately attracted to Martha, but she seems uninterested and later warns Tom that she is suspicious of his new friend. Meanwhile, Dev finds Minnie, who tells him that twelve of his men are in town. Dev reveals his mission to the men, promising each $5,000 for joining the cause. Several offer to work for free, but Dev insists that he wants no "glory-getters." That night, Dev attends a formal dinner at Tom's hacienda. Martha acts as hostess to the Texas senators whom Tom is trying to persuade to switch sides and oppose annexation. After dinner, Tom tells the senators that Mexico has promised California to Texas and reveals his dream of having Texas become the largest republic in the world. Senator Claude Anthony Demmet is so incensed by Tom's revelation that he starts to leave, but Tom stops him, insisting that the senators will be his "guests" until after the treaty is signed. The senators ask for satisfaction from Tom, with Demmet the first to confront him with a dueling pistol. Although Tom could easily kill the senator after Demmet's shot only grazes him, Tom fires into the air. Martha is proud of Tom, but when she is alone with Dev realizes her attraction to him and they kiss. Not wanting to betray Tom's hospitality, Dev leaves and later relates what has happened to Minnie, who warns him that Martha will not return his feelings if she finds out what side he is on. That same night, after informing his men that he is going to look for Houston, Dev returns to Tom's hacienda and tells the senators to leave. Tom allows them to go, after which Dev reveals his true identity and confesses that he had earlier kissed Martha. Tom lets Dev leave, but Martha is so enraged to learn Dev's true identity that she urges Tom to go after him. Dev is able to elude Tom and his men by crossing the river into Apache territory, where he is lead to Houston's camp. When Dev tells Houston that the treaty with Mexico is soon to be passed, in part because Houston seemingly endorsed it, Houston assures Dev that he was merely trying to spur annexation supporters into action. Just then Tom finds his way into camp and accuses Houston of betraying the Republic. Houston then writes a letter for Dev to deliver to current Texas president Anson Jones, informing him of Houston's opposition to the treaty. Tom leaves before Dev, and gathers his men on the other side of the river to ambush him. Dev pretends to fall off his horse, then escapes downstream to surprise Tom's men. Although Dev has a clear shot at Tom, who has lost his gun, Dev does not kill him. Dev then rides to see Martha, and shows her the envelope containing Houston's letter. He tells her to tear it up if she wants, but she cannot, and the pair share a passionate kiss. The next morning, Martha reads an eastern newspaper story about the scandal surrounding Dev's contract for providing beef to the Union. Now convinced that Dev is an opportunist, she goes to President Jones. Dev arrives a moment later with the letter, but when he opens the envelope, discovers that the ink smeared when he fell into the river. Although Jones is willing to wait for Houston before bringing up the treaty in the legislature, Martha tells him about Dev's beef contract, and Jones decides not to delay. While Dev confers with Minnie and his men, Martha prints a story in her newspaper announcing Houston's endorsement of annexation, and later tells Jones and Dev that she has confirmed it is true. When Tom reads the article, he fears that the treaty will not be ratified and gathers supporters to storm Austin. Upon learning of Tom's plans, Dev becomes incensed and organizes the town to make a stand against him. As the legislature prepares to vote, Tom's men ride into town and a furious battle ensues. Tom's men break through the barricades and are ready to storm the legislature when Houston arrives with a large contingency of Indians. Tom loudly accuses Houston of selling out Texas, prompting Dev to fight him. During the fight, Tom returns Dev's earlier favor by sparing his life, but is finally bested by Dev. With annexation now a certainty, Houston warns that Mexican troops will attack and announces that the Americans are coming to their aid. Before joining the fight, Dev kisses Martha, and Tom joins his fellow Texans by carrying their flag into battle.
Robert Foster Dover
Amapola Del Vando
William E. Green
Earl K. Brent
A. Arnold Gillespie
James Edward Grant
Z. Wayne Griffin
Alfred E. Spencer
Edwin B. Willis
This is one of those pictures that implies historical accuracy but has only a passing, well-groomed resemblance to actual events. When Sam Houston (Moroni Olsen), announces that he's willing to sign a Texas-sized peace agreement with the government of Mexico, cattle-baron Devereaux Burke (Clark Gable) is sent by former President Andrew Jackson (Lionel Barrymore) to try to correct the situation. Burke, whose reward will be a contract to sell beef to the U.S. Army if it starts fighting Mexico, has to journey to Comanche territory where Houston has set up camp. Along the way, he meets Sen. Tom Craden (Broderick Crawford), a tough-guy who also favors a treaty with Mexico. Craden doesn't much care for Burke, and he likes him even less when Burke sets his sights on Craden's girl, an Austin newspaper editor named Martha Ronda (Ava Gardner.)
Generally speaking, that love triangle is the best thing about Lone Star - Gable and Gardner may well be the most attractive people to ever endure the Western frontier. Buckskins and slowly massing armies can't compete with grade-A movie stars throwing off sparks, so all the political turmoil takes a necessary backseat when things take a romantic turn. Still, there's enough gun-waving to satisfy hardcore Western fans. Just accept that the bad weather, salted foods, and lack of hygiene have no effect whatsoever on Gardner's creamy complexion.
That complexion and Gardner's other notable assets were responsible for driving Frank Sinatra to distraction, and he was certainly distracted during the filming of Lone Star. This was an especially tempestuous time in the Sinatra-Gardner relationship. Frank was still married to his first wife, and often spent his evenings at her house, having dinner with their children. Gardner thought these gatherings were hypocritical, if not deluded, and was starting to get annoyed with her high-profile lover. She was also forced into appearing in Lone Star by Louis B. Mayer, so she didn't expect to enjoy her time on the set.
Luckily, Gardner was a lifelong Gable fan, and they liked each other. She was especially adept at cursing like a sailor, a trait he inexplicably appreciated in women. At the time, Gable, who was in the midst of yet another divorce proceeding, was doing a lot of drinking with Spencer Tracy, and Gardner often joined the two icons for a few boisterous rounds. The actress Loretta Young was known for carrying a "swear box," into which coins were dropped when you used an inappropriate word in her presence. "Loretta could have made a fortune on Lone Star," Tracy once said.
Sinatra, by the way, would lose this particular round with Gardner. He often showed up on the Lone Star set, moping in the background during filming. Gardner got fed up with his glum theatrics, especially since she was having so much fun with Gable and Tracy. She eventually told the down-and-out crooner (at this point, his career was at its lowest point) that she would be leaving for a solo vacation immediately after filming wrapped. This threw Sinatra for an even bigger loop, but he and Gardner would have many, many more confrontations before their romance would be abandoned for good. If nothing else, the turmoil enabled him to sing I'm a Fool to Want You from the depths of his soul for the rest of his career. Movie stars will do that to you.
Directed by: Vincent Sherman
Produced by: Z. Wayne Griffin Screenplay: Borden Chase and Howard Estabrook
Editing: Ferris Webster
Photography: Harold Rosson
Music: David Buttolph
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons and Hans Peters
Principal Cast: Clark Gable (Devereaux Burke), Ava Gardner (Martha Ronda), Broderick Crawford (Thomas Craden), Lionel Barrymore (Andrew Jackson), Beulah Bondi (Minniver Bryan), Ed Begley (Sen. Anthony Demmett), William Farnum (Sen. Tom Crockett), Lowell Gilmore (Capt. Elliot), Moroni Olsen (Sam Houston).
C-95m. Closed captioning.
by Paul Tatara
The onscreen writing credits read as follows: "Screen play by Borden Chase from the magazine story by Borden Chase based on the screen story of Howard Estabrook." Following the opening credits, a written prologue establishes the date as 1843 and describes the situation in Texas to that point. According to an January 18, 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, Lone Star was to be the initial offering of Hudson Pictures, a company formed by actor Clark Gable and producer Z. Wayne Griffin. A February 9, 1951 news item reported that the production package was "the industry's biggest single package deal in several years." When M-G-M took over the project, the article continued, the package was sold to M-G-M "lock, stock and barrel" for $300,000, retaining Griffin as producer and Gable as star.
Although a typed copy of Chase's original story, contained in the M-G-M story files at the USC Cinema-Television Library, was hand-marked "S.E.P.," the story was not published in The Saturday Evening Post and its only known publication was as a full-length novel released shortly after the film. The story files for Lone Star did not mention Estabrook, and the extent of his contribution to Chase's story is unknown.
Hollywood Reporter news items indicate that Jeff Richards, John Konorez and Emelio Blanco were cast, but Richards was not in the film and the appearance of Konorez and Blanco has not been confirmed. Portions of the film were shot on location in Texas, according to news items and reviews.
An article in Los Angeles Times on February 9, 1952 reported that M-G-M production head Dore Schary had filed suit in the amount of $1,250,000 against the Wage Earners Committee of the United States of America after the committee had picketed the film's premiere the previous day, advising the public not to see the film. Picketers identified Schary by name as a Communist and "urged the public not to patronize the film...and attempted to refer the public to Congressional and State legislative committee reports concerning subversive activities in Hollywood." The article went on to report that the suit was similar to one filed the previous month by producer Stanley Kramer. No information on the disposition of the suit has been located.
Although the film's main characters, "Devereaux Burke," "Thomas Craden" and "Martha Ronda" were fictional, some of characters, including Sam Houston, Anson Jones and President Andrew Jackson were actual historical figures who were instrumental in the annexation of the Republic of Texas by the United States. The film's prologue indicates that the story begins in 1843, however, the actual historical events depicted took place in 1844 and 1845.
As dramatized in the film, the Republic of Texas, of which Sam Houston was the first president, considered signing a treaty with Mexico but ultimately voted for anexation by the United States. Annexation precipitated a war with Mexico from 1845 to 1848. Anson Jones was the second President of the Republic and Texas' first state governor. For additional information on the same historical period, please see entry for the 1939 Republic film Man of Conquest (AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40).
Broderick Crawford was loaned from Columbia for the production. Gable and Ava Gardner had earlier appeared in the 1947 M-G-M film The Hucksters (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). They made one additional film together, Mogambo, also by M-G-M, released in 1953. Aside from a brief role playing himself in M-G-M's 1953 release From Main Street to Broadway, Lionel Barrymore (1878-1954) made his last screen appearance in Lone Star. Barrymore, who died on November 15, 1954, was a member of the famous stage family of actors that included his sister Ethel and brother John, began his film career as both an actor and director in the 1910s. He was under contract to M-G-M from the mid-1920s and appeared in scores of films. Barrymore had previously portrayed Andrew Jackson in the 1936 M-G-M production The Gorgeous Hussy. Beulah Bondi, who portrayed the ficticious "Minniver Bryan," an "old friend" of Jackson's in Lone Star, portrayed his wife Rachel in The Gorgeous Hussy (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40).