The First Texan (1956)

81-82 mins | Drama | 1 July 1956

Director:

Byron Haskin

Producer:

Walter Mirisch

Cinematographer:

Wilfrid M. Cline

Editor:

George White

Production Designer:

David Milton

Production Company:

Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Opening and ending cast credits differ in order. Although a Sep 1956 HR news item credited McElbert Moore as co-writer of the theme song for The First Texan , only Roy Webb was credited onscreen. Moore's contribution to the film has not been confirmed. Actor Jody McCrea was Joel McCrea's son. Sam Houston (1793—1863) was an American general and political leader and the president of the Republic of Texas from 1836—1838 and 1841—1844. As dramatized in the film, Houston led a small army in apparent retreat, which was actually a strategy to entrap the Mexican army led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna (who is called "Santa Ana" in the film). Despite Texas' constitutional advocacy of slavery, the U.S. Congress accepted it as a state on 29 Dec 1845.
       The First Texan was shot on location at Conejo Ranch in Los Angeles, CA. Other films dealing with the life of Sam Houston and early Texas history are the 1917 Fox picture The Conquerer , directed by R. A. Walsh and starring William Farnum (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ), the 1939 Republic film Man of Conquest , directed by George Nicholls, Jr. and starring Richard Dix (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ), and the 1952 M-G-M film Lone Star , directed by Vincent Sherman and starring Clark Gable and Ava Gardner (See ... More Less

Opening and ending cast credits differ in order. Although a Sep 1956 HR news item credited McElbert Moore as co-writer of the theme song for The First Texan , only Roy Webb was credited onscreen. Moore's contribution to the film has not been confirmed. Actor Jody McCrea was Joel McCrea's son. Sam Houston (1793—1863) was an American general and political leader and the president of the Republic of Texas from 1836—1838 and 1841—1844. As dramatized in the film, Houston led a small army in apparent retreat, which was actually a strategy to entrap the Mexican army led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna (who is called "Santa Ana" in the film). Despite Texas' constitutional advocacy of slavery, the U.S. Congress accepted it as a state on 29 Dec 1845.
       The First Texan was shot on location at Conejo Ranch in Los Angeles, CA. Other films dealing with the life of Sam Houston and early Texas history are the 1917 Fox picture The Conquerer , directed by R. A. Walsh and starring William Farnum (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ), the 1939 Republic film Man of Conquest , directed by George Nicholls, Jr. and starring Richard Dix (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ), and the 1952 M-G-M film Lone Star , directed by Vincent Sherman and starring Clark Gable and Ava Gardner (See Entry). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
16 Jun 1956.
---
Daily Variety
11 Jun 56
p. 3.
Film Daily
15 Jun 56
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 1955
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 1955
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Nov 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 56
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
20 Sep 1956.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
16 Jun 56
p. 937.
New York Times
23 Jun 56
p. 20.
Variety
13 Jun 56
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Lighting eff
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Lead man
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus score
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod asst
Set cont
Prod auditor
Scr apprentice
SOURCES
SONGS
"The First Texan," music by Roy Webb, lyrics by McElbert Moore.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1 July 1956
Production Date:
14 October--early November 1955 at Republic Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
28 May 1956
Copyright Number:
LP6464
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
81-82
Length(in feet):
7,388
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18028
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In December 1832, attorney and former Tennessee governor Sam Houston rides into San Antonio, Texas, and stops at Pepe’s hotel saloon. When would-be politician James Bowie, who is holding a meeting with his comrades, hears Sam’s name, he entreats Sam to help liberate Texas from Mexico’s rule. However, Sam is starting a new life and has no interest in politics. Moments later, Mexican troops led by Col. Cos attempt to arrest Jim and his comrades for treason. Through quick action, Jim holds Cos at bay, which allows some of the men to escape, after which Jim and his friend, Pablo Dominguez, confront Cos. Using his training as a lawyer, Sam intervenes on their behalf and after he receives Cos’s assurance that the men will be unharmed, he consents to their arrest and agrees to defend them at their trial. The next day, Sam meets Katherine, daughter of furniture shop owner Henry Delaney, while renting office space for his new law business, and is immediately smitten by Katherine’s charms. At Jim’s and Pablo’s trial, Sam convinces judge Don Carlos that, because San Antonio is not under martial law, Cos had no jurisdiction to arrest the men. When the case is dismissed, Cos warns that the ruling will incite the ire of his brother-in-law, Gen. Santa Ana. Afterward, Jim introduces Sam to his partners in the "Free Texas" movement, which includes William B. Travis, Jim Fannin, Stephen Austin and Jim’s father-in-law, Don Juan Veramendi. Sam reminds them that he only wants to practice law, and declines to join their cause. Although Sam falls in love with Katherine, she insists that ... +


In December 1832, attorney and former Tennessee governor Sam Houston rides into San Antonio, Texas, and stops at Pepe’s hotel saloon. When would-be politician James Bowie, who is holding a meeting with his comrades, hears Sam’s name, he entreats Sam to help liberate Texas from Mexico’s rule. However, Sam is starting a new life and has no interest in politics. Moments later, Mexican troops led by Col. Cos attempt to arrest Jim and his comrades for treason. Through quick action, Jim holds Cos at bay, which allows some of the men to escape, after which Jim and his friend, Pablo Dominguez, confront Cos. Using his training as a lawyer, Sam intervenes on their behalf and after he receives Cos’s assurance that the men will be unharmed, he consents to their arrest and agrees to defend them at their trial. The next day, Sam meets Katherine, daughter of furniture shop owner Henry Delaney, while renting office space for his new law business, and is immediately smitten by Katherine’s charms. At Jim’s and Pablo’s trial, Sam convinces judge Don Carlos that, because San Antonio is not under martial law, Cos had no jurisdiction to arrest the men. When the case is dismissed, Cos warns that the ruling will incite the ire of his brother-in-law, Gen. Santa Ana. Afterward, Jim introduces Sam to his partners in the "Free Texas" movement, which includes William B. Travis, Jim Fannin, Stephen Austin and Jim’s father-in-law, Don Juan Veramendi. Sam reminds them that he only wants to practice law, and declines to join their cause. Although Sam falls in love with Katherine, she insists that their relationship remain platonic because she is working as his secretary. Sam realizes that Katherine may be concerned that he is still married, although he has separated from his wife. To allay Katherine’s concerns, he dictates a letter to his attorneys stating his intention to remain permanently in San Antonio, and instructing them to move forward with his divorce. Moments later, Pablo is shot in front of the church by Cos’s guards. Before he dies, Pablo reveals that he had been arrested but escaped without revealing any of his compatriots’ names. Jim wants to launch an armed response, but Sam urges him to build a militia before challenging the general. When Sam later proposes to Katherine, who is a pacifist, she accepts on the condition that he promises to stay out of the impending war. Shortly afterward, Davy Crockett arrives with a secret message from President Andrew Jackson commanding Sam to visit him immediately in Washington, D.C. There, Sam reports on the Free Texas movement, and states that both Mexicans and Americans want an independent republic. Although Jackson wants to incorporate Texas into the union, he is unwilling to commit U.S. troops in a war against Mexico. However, after learning that Santa Ana has overthrown the Mexican government and declared martial law in Texas, Jackson orders Sam to lead a Texas revolution. Upon Sam's return to San Antonio, Jim informs him that Cos and his troops have been run out of town, then urges Sam to attend a political convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos, where delegates will be nominated for the new republic. Sam regretfully breaks his promise to Katherine, who ends their relationship. After becoming the Texas Army’s commander-in-chief, Sam learns that the troops posted at the Alamo mission are out-numbered by Santa Ana’s forces. At the convention, Sam orders the delegates to draw up a constitution while he organizes an army in Gonzales. After taking command of Col. Hockley’s undisciplined soldiers, Sam marches them toward the Alamo. However, he soon receives word from Don Carlos that the Alamo has fallen and all their men there were either killed in battle or executed. Sam then sends scout Deaf Smith with orders for Fannin’s troops to destroy the mission and join Sam’s company. As Santa Ana and his soldiers draw near, Sam continues to build his army, but leads them away from Santa Ana. One day, Colonel Sam Sherman arrives with Katherine, who bears a petition urging Sam to turn and fight, rather than continue to retreat. When Katherine, who has become an ardent supporter of the revolution, reunites with Sam, he secretly reveals that he intends to fight Santa Ana, but only when the time is right. Santa Ana, meanwhile, tells Cos he plans to destroy Sam’s army before they reach the American border. Unknown to Sam, his officer Capt. Martin calls a secret meeting at which he proposes the officers mutiny because Sam is apparently unwilling to confront the enemy. Sam’s loyal recruits, lieutenants Baker and Jack LeBlanc intervene, after which Sam reveals his intention to march that night and launch a surprise dawn attack against Santa Ana. Sam explains that his strategy was to convince Santa Ana that they would cross into the U.S., but actually lead the Mexican troops into a trap at San Jacinto Bay. Sam then urges his officers to “remember the Alamo.” The Texas Army is quietly positioned outside Santa Ana’s camp and launches their attack at first light. Sam is shot by Cos during the battle, who is then attacked by Sam’s soldiers. Although Sam is wounded, he urges his officers to capture Santa Ana alive and deliver him to the new government. While Sam recovers from his injury following the battle, the recently promoted Baker and LeBlanc capture Santa Ana, who had been disguised as a peasant. Sam demands the general’s unconditional surrender and orders that his armies evacuate Texas. He then advises the general that he will be brought to trial in the new capital of Texas. Katherine meets the returning troops with the news that Texas has been declared an independent republic, with Sam as its first president. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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