Clay Hardin is a San Antonio rancher who has been run off his land by cattle rustlers. There’s a range war going on and Hardin is determined to get the man behind it all, Roy Stuart. Hardin has been hiding out in Mexico, biding his time and decides the time has come for him to return. He’s managed to get hold of one of Stuart’s tally books that clearly shows he was selling cattle that didn’t belong to him. Stuart and his partner Legare will go to any lengths to stop Hardin before he can put the evidence before a court. Beautiful dance hall performer Jeanne Starr arrives in San Antonio under contract to Stuart and Legare but she is clearly smitten with the handsome Hardin. When the army is called away, Hardin and his supporters are left on their own to defend themselves.
The wonderful flash and charm of Errol Flynn
I admit, this is the first Flynn movie I have seen. I have long been intrigued by the actor’s reputation: as THE dashing movie swashbuckler and dandy. After seeing San Antonio, I find that that reputation seems well earned. Flynn’s Clay Hardin is a bit of a super-hero, tossing witty dialog right and left, outsmarting and outfighting bad guys, charming ladies effortlessly and looking swell throughout all. As Westerns go, it does not hold up well with the more dramatic and textured movies that started being made a few years later; the plot is not exactly the most believable and the film is loaded with perfectly stock characters (conniving cattleman, scheming Acadian, loyal father figure/partner, etc.). Then again, it is clearly a different sort of movie and I recommend it as that; a pulp Western, the sort of pulp that Indiana Jones is homage to, a story of villains, damsels, and one unstoppable roguish hero.