Written by John McGreevey and directed by William Hale, ‘Murder In Texas‘ is based on the memoir Prescription: Murder written by Ann Kurth, who tells the story of her affair with a Houston surgeon and the accusations that he murdered his first wife Texas socialite Joan Robinson Hill.
Plastic surgeon Dr. John Hill (Sam Elliott) is unhappy in his marriage Joan (Farrah Fawcett), seeing her wealthy father Ash Robinson (Andy Griffith) as controlling and overbearing. He begins an affair with Ann Kurth (Katharine Ross), promising to leave his wife and marry her. However, Ash asserts his control over the couple, blackmailing John to stay with Joan. However, after Joan dies under mysterious circumstances, John is accused by Ash and hires high-powered attorney Richard “Racehorse” Haynes (G. W. Bailey) for a defense. At first, Ann stays by his side, but she soon begins to wonder if John has a Mr. Hyde hiding in his Dr. Jekyll.
This was a story that took the Lone Star State by storm. I remember reading about it in a different book titled Blood And Money, which is more of a true-crime book than a memoir. With all of the twists and turns that this very real tale has, it is hard to get a read on it. Dick Clark Productions and NBC ran this as a two-part movie in 1981.
I want to say that the talent in this film is fantastic. Sam Elliott is brilliant as the cunning and suspicious doctor. Farrah Fawcett is excellent as Joan and captures the character of the jilted wife. Lastly, the most impressive performance is by Andy Griffith. He plays the part of a Texan ‘good ‘ol boy’ to brilliance. His selfish, entitled, and incredibly controlling over his daughter and son-in-law. I have seen Griffith play very few serious roles as he is mostly known for his comedy, but this part he nails.
As for the technical aspect, it is somewhat typical for that time period. They have excellent and costumes appropriate for the time, but it has issues with lighting and sound quality, as well as background music being played too loudly. That last part, in particular, was seriously distracting while you were trying to watch.
That being said, the plot is almost too hard to believe that it was true. The movie follows the twists and turns, dives in Texas high society, and treats it as a murder mystery. It was an excellent way to tell the story and it kept your attention the whole time. Technically, the mystery surrounding Joan’s death has never been solved and the climax is almost too hard too believe.
Bottom line, Murder In Texas does lack in the technical side, but it has some dynamite performances by the cast, especially from Andy Griffith. The story is compelling and hard to believe that it is something that happened in real life.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Sexual innuendo, Minor Language, Some violence
FAVORITE QUOTE: In Houston, you hear weird stories about everyone.
Normally, I try to include a trailer to watch, but all I could find was this old VHS promo that was not well-cut. Check it out below and enjoy:
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This article has been updated from a previous version.