THE STREETS OF LAREDO. Paramount Pictures, 1949. William Holden, Macdonald Carey, Mona Freeman, William Bendix, Stanley Ridges, Alfonso Bedoya, Ray Teal, Clem Bevans. Directed by Leslie Fenton.

   I was no more than fifteen minutes into The Streets of Laredo when I began to have the distinct impression that I had seen the movie before. The thing is: I was nearly certain I hadn’t. I’m pretty good at remembering which movies I’ve seen and which I haven’t. I also was pretty sure I would have remembered William Holden portraying an outlaw turned Texas lawman.

   As it turns out, this late 1940s Technicolor western was a remake of The Texas Rangers (1936), which I reviewed here some seven years ago. Turns out that I liked the movie well enough, although it doesn’t seem like I felt like it was anything exceptional.

   In many ways, the same good equally be said for The Streets of Laredo. The film strives to be something of an epic tale about friendship, love, and good vs. evil, but ends up being something less than that. It’s just a solidly made western, albeit one that is assuredly better than many of the clumsy westerns from the late 1940s. Notably, it doesn’t include a single Native American character or a notably goofy sidekick.

   William Holden portrays Jim Hawkins, who along with friends Lorn Reming (Macdonald Carey) and Wahoo Jones (William Bendix) is in the stagecoach holdup business. After the trio gets separated, Lorn (Carey) continues to pursue a life of crime, while Hawkins and Wahoo sign up with the Texas Rangers. Two men, former amigos, end up on the opposite side of the law.

   But that’s not all. Both Jim and Lorn have similar romantic intentions toward Rannie Carter (Mona Freeman), a young woman they had rescued years ago. Add in a devious extortionist by the name of Charley Calico (a scenery chewing Alfonso Bedoya) and you’ve got yourself a solid ninety minutes of cinematic entertainment.

   Although it’s been a while since I’ve seen The Texas Rangers, I somehow have the impression that the original was better than the remake. There’s nothing remotely memorable or artistic about the direction or cinematography in The Streets of Laredo. Aesthetically, it’s about as average as you can get. And from what I can tell from my review of King Vidor’s 1936 film, that one was “worth viewing for its good direction, plot twists, and some rugged, well choreographed, frontier action. There’s an especially harrowing sequence involved Indians rolling boulders down a hill in order to maim and murder some Rangers that is really something to behold.” I can’t think of any such equivalent action sequence in Leslie Fenton’s film.