THE TEXICAN. Columbia Pictures, 1966. Audie Murphy, Broderick Crawford, Diana Lorys, Luz Márquez, Aldo Sambrel, Anthony Casas, Gerard Tichy. Director: Lesley Selander.

   I feel as though I liked The Texican far more than I deserved to. Perhaps that’s a strange way to begin a film review, but it seems apt in this case, mainly because, all things considered, this Audie Murphy vehicle has a lot of noticeable flaws. First of all, there’s the score, which fits perfectly in a quirky late 1960s paella Western but which completely overwhelms this movie and feels gratuitously out of place. Then, there’s the dubbing of voices. And not just the Spanish actors, but also that of Broderick Crawford, whose voice was likely dubbed into Spanish and then back into English. Much like the film soundtrack, it seemed out of place.

   What won me over, I confess, was seeing Murphy in a Western role that was far less squeaky-clean than many of the programmers he starred in throughout the 1950s. Not that he always played perfect heroes in the past. But in The Texican, it also seemed as if being physically out of Hollywood and no longer on a studio lot allowed Murphy to portray a world-weary gunfighter in a more convincing manner than he could have when he began his acting career. Sadly, Murphy would pass away five years later in a tragic plane crash in Virginia.

   There’s also Broderick Crawford, whom I mentioned above, who is a superbly intimidating physical presence, even without his trademark growly voice. He portrays a heavy (pun semi-intended) by the name of Luke Starr who has the town of Rimrock under his thumb. That is until Jess Carlin (Murphy) begins to investigate the mysterious death of his brother Roy, a newspaperman who was a thorn in Starr’s side.

   The plot, for a 1960s Western, is rather conventional, but sometimes it’s good to revisit traditional narratives. Not every movie has to deconstruct the Western mythos. From what I have ascertained online, The Texican is a reimagining of Lesley Selander’s 1948 film Panhandle, also co-written by John C. Champion, in which Rod Cameron took top billing. I haven’t seen that one, but it’s now on my list.

   As far as The Texican goes, your cinematic life won’t be lacking if you never end up catching up with it But for simple escapist entertainment that checks all the boxes, you could do a lot worse.