EYES OF TEXAS. Republic Pictures, 1948. Roy Rogers, Trigger, Lynne Roberts, Andy Devine, Nana Bryant, Roy Barcroft, Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers. Director: William Witney.

   Whitneyesque. That’s the term I coined in my mind while watching a fairly brutal– comparatively speaking — fight scene in Eyes of Texas, a Roy Rogers film directed by veteran director William Whitney. (Apologies to anyone who coined this term before, but it certainly fits.) There’s just something exceptional about William Whitney’s fight choreography. You can see it as much in the serial The Crimson Ghost, for example, as in this programmer in which Rogers portrays a marshal tasked with investigating a mysterious death and possible insurance fraud.

   True to the Roy Rogers formula, there’s some lighthearted comedy, songs by Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers, and the smartest horse in the movies — the one and only Trigger. But in Eyes of Texas, you also get a murder mystery, death by a pack of vicious dogs, a corrupt lawyer, and the rather lengthy Whitneyeque fight sequence referenced above in which Roy gets into an altercation with a gang of hired thugs in which he is bruised and battered, punched and roped. It’s gritty and set to the type of music that you’d expect to hear in an action-packed film serial.

   Of course, a Roy Rogers movie of this era wouldn’t be the same without Andy Devine. In this film, he portrays a doctor caught between townsfolk who have turned on Roy Rogers and his longstanding affection for, and friendship with, Rogers. His blend of physical comedy and general ability to convey pathos when needed works well in this particular entry in the vast Rogers canon. Eyes of Texas may not be the best Western ever made, and it might not even be the best Roy Rogers film, but it’s an entertaining movie from Gower Gulch that punches well above its weight.