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'Texas Ranger' Hits Theaters...Finally

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Well, pardner, Texas Rangers finally opened. After wrapping in summer 1999, the James Van Der Beek-Dylan McDermott Western sneaked onto 402 screens Nov. 30 with minimal promotion and no advance screenings for critics. The opening weekend brought box office tumbleweeds ($320,000). Who exactly joined this posse? Here’s a recap of the first public screening at Manhattan’s UA Union Square theater.

—10 A.M. An older gent rebuffs all queries: ”How could you question me like that? Go find somebody else!” We are, at this point, the only breathing souls in the theater.

—10:05 A retired National Security Agency cryptographer admits his love of Westerns but also prefers anonymity.

—10:10 Texas opens with generic narration and sepia stills. Says Mr. Crypto: ”Off to a good start, this film. Realism!”

—HIGH NOON…OK, 11:45 As the sun sets on Texas, 11 ticket-buyers are in the house. Latecomers spurn interviews, but Mr. Crypto lends a thumb: ”A no-nonsense, gutsy picture!”

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