Cast & Crew
While Captain Jack Steele of the Texas Rangers is assigned by Major Jameson to bring in renegade leader Judith Alvarez, the suspected murderer of rancher Sam Dunning, his friend, Larry Corwin, is dismissed from the Rangers for brawling in a saloon. Sure that Jack betrayed him to the major, Larry angrily rejects his friend, who then leaves with Happy, another Ranger, to find Judith. In Pecos City, Jack and Happy pose as cowboys and inquire about Ben Sanderson, an influential rancher and political boss who has posted a large reward for Judith's capture. After witnessing a tense scene between Sanderson and another rancher, who is worried that he, like Judith, will lose his ranch because he is unable to pay his back taxes, which Sanderson is responsible for levying, Jack sees Judith and her armed men storm into Sanderson's office. During the robbery by Judith, a fight breaks out, and Judith and her men are pursued by Sanderson's men. Jack saves Judith from sure death and is wounded in the process. Grateful, Judith takes Jack to her mountain hideout to recuperate, and there Jack discovers that Larry has become part of Judith's gang. Unmoved by Jack's arguments, Larry, who is in love with the daughter of another disenfranchised rancher, threatens to reveal Jack's cover if he tries to arrest Judith. Soon after, Judith, having heard a promising report about Sanderson's cattle, organizes a scouting mission with Jack and Larry, unaware that Hank, one of her men, is a spy for Sanderson and is relaying the news to him. Before they depart, Larry alerts Don Juan Campielo, Judith's lead man, of Jack's identity, and Jack is told that he will soon meet with an "accident." On the way to Sanderson's range, Sanderson's gang, lead by Monty, ambush Judith's group. Before Sanderson's gang claims Judith, however, Jack reveals his identity and arrests her. After Sanderson's men, posing as Judith's men, execute a phony jailbreak and take Judith hostage, Jack and her gang ride to Sanderson's ranch to retrieve her. While circling the ranch house, Jack overhears Monty confess to killing Dunning on Sanderson's orders. Before Sanderson sends Judith to her death, Jack and her men break in and, following an intense gunfight, rescue her. Sanderson is arrested for murder, while Judith, who has forgiven Jack, is restored to her land and Larry is re-instated as a Ranger.
Chris Pin Martin
Frank M. Thomas
Albert Hay Malotte
Hugh Mcdowell Jr.
Van Nest Polglase
The seasoned star was impressed with Hayworth's good nature and professional eagerness. O'Brien said that during filming, she frequently asked for advice on how to play a certain moment and never pretended to know more than she did or put on airs about "slumming" in a B western. "Rita carried herself beautifully," he later noted. "She walked and moved with such grace! Cliché though it might be, she was poetry in motion." Reviewers noted the young actress's screen talents and riding skills, calling hers "one of the finest female sagebrush performances seen in a long while." It was clear, even at this early stage of her career and in such an inauspicious setting, that Hayworth would soon justify O'Brien's prediction that she was destined to go far in the movie business.
The Renegade Ranger was considered one of the best of the more than two dozen pictures O'Brien made with director David Howard between 1932 and 1940. Variety told readers it was "a very good western, filled with brawling, gunning and outlawry" and praised its "above average" photography and sound.
Just a few years after this film, O'Brien, whose resume included the great silent classic Sunrise (1927) and John Ford's first major western The Iron Horse (1924), hung up his spurs and joined the Navy at the age of 41 to fight in World War II. He was decorated many times for his service in the Pacific, but when he returned stateside, he had difficulty finding work in movies. He only made five more movies between the end of the war and 1964; three of them cast him in smaller roles as cavalry officers in the films of his old friend, John Ford - Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Cheyenne Autumn (1964).
Featured in The Renegade Ranger as a young hothead drummed out of the Rangers who joins Alvarez's gang is 20-year-old Tim Holt, son of Jack Holt, a leading man of the silent and early talkies era. In the 1940s and into the early 50s, Tim Holt would take up the mantle as RKO's western star, appearing in O'Brien's role in a remake of The Renegade Ranger under its original title Come On Danger (1942). In addition to the popular western series, Holt occasionally made appearances in such prestige pictures as The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), My Darling Clementine (1946) and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).
Director: David Howard
Producer: Bert Gilroy
Screenplay: Oliver Drake, based on a story by Bennett Cohen
Cinematography: Harry J. Wild
Editing: Frederic Knudtson
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase
Original Music: Roy Webb
Cast: George O'Brien (Captain Jack Steele), Rita Hayworth (Judith Alvarez), Tim Holt (Larry Corwin), Ray Whitley (Happy), Lucio Villegas (Juan Capillo).
by Rob Nixon
The working title of this film was Ranger Code. According to the opening frame in the copyright cutting continuity, the picture was one of the "$250,000 movie quiz contest pictures." No additional information about this contest has been found. RKO borrowed Rita Hayworth from Columbia Pictures for this production. According to Hollywood Reporter, scenes for the production were shot in Chatsworth, CA. Modern sources add Tom Steele (Outlaw) and Ken Card and The Phelps Brothers (Musicians) to the cast. RKO made its first filmed version of Bennett Cohen's screen story in 1932 as Come On Danger! (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.0778). In 1942, Edward Killy directed Tim Holt and Frances Neal in another RKO remake of Cohen's story, also called Come On Danger!