Moonlight on the Prairie (1935) Poster

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6/10
Pistols, Pintos and Palominos
boblipton22 July 2011
It was sometimes said that, contrary to the popular view, Hollywood consisted of western movies with a thin layer of 'A' pictures and almost all of the major studios had a western unit or sometimes two. For Warner Brothers from 1935-1937, they had a series of Dick Foran starring in singing cowboy westerns -- a kitchen sink genre if there ever was one, with western action for the boy and singing for the girls.

This one, the first of the series, has a plot with something for everyone, as Dick helps a small boy and his pretty widowed mother make good his claim to his father's ranch. Dick is a bit stagy for the movies at this point, but the direction by Ross Lederman is typically efficient and the cinematography by Fred Jackman Junior -- he started out at the Roach studio -- is exceedingly handsome. It's the pictures that make this one worthwhile, not Foran's deep baritone.
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8/10
Featuring Smoky, a Beautiful Palomino!!
kidboots15 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I can remember seeing this movie when I was a kid (in the 1950s) and never forgetting the haunting title song - now having the opportunity to see it again, I was not disappointed. There were so many singing cowboys - Tex Ritter, Gene Autry, even John Wayne did a stint as "Singing Sandy". Dick Foran was billed as "The Singing Cowboy" in this Warner Bros. Western series (they only produced 2 in the thirties, the other was an earlier one with John Wayne). Foran's series was beautifully produced with a very slick and polished look. Dick Foran could actually sing in a rich baritone - he wasn't just a casual crooner and he also had a beautiful Palomino named Smoky who got to show what he could do in some twists in the plot that had the horse galloping to save Ace. The series was designed for kids so there was a lot of "dime novel" dialogue and little homilies (when Ace tells Dickie never to shoot at someone until you give them fair warning!!) but it worked as the movies really appealed to children.

The action starts instantly as Ace Andrews (Foran) foils a daring hold up by Indians on the Wells Fargo stage - who cares if it is just a stunt for a traveling Wild West medicine show. When the show closes Ace is eager to get back to his home town where he is suspected of killing the local thug, Butch Roberts (he joined the Wild West show straight after the incident) - he wants to return to clear his name. They make a stop at a saloon where both Ace and his pal, "Small Change" (George E. Stone) put on a show to get money so they can have a square meal. Ace gives a rendition of "Covered Wagon Days" to the appreciative delight of the crowd. Ace always wondered why he was blamed for the murder and he is soon told that it was because his hatred of people who are cruel to animals was well known and at the time of his murder Butch was seen whipping his horse.

Butch Robert's widow, Barbara (Sheila Mannors) has also come to town with her little boy, Dickie (Dickie Jones) to install him as the rightful heir of the Bar B Ranch. The will stipulates that he has to return to the ranch within 30 days of his father's burial. Ace has offered to escort them there after they are shunned by the town's folk but meanwhile the real killers (you find out who they are within 5 minutes of the film's start), Buck (Robert Barrett) and Luke (good old bad guy Joe Sawyer) try their best to make sure the group never reaches the ranch. First there is a rock slide but that only makes them more determined, then there is a horse stampede and Dickie is almost trampled but Ace still manages to get the young heir to the ranch just in time. The baddies haven't finished with them yet and it is pesky Dickie's insistence that he tag along with his cowboy friends that sees him kidnapped but like all good Saturday morning flicks everything is put right at the end.

Sheila Mannors had been trying to make her mark in the movies for some time but only seemed to score roles in westerns. The next year a new name began appearing in the cast lists. It was Sheila Bromley but unfortunately the name change didn't change her luck.
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5/10
The Widow Gets Her Inheritance
bkoganbing22 July 2011
Moonlight On The Prarie marked the debut of Dick Foran as Warner Brothers singing cowboy, their answer to Republic and Gene Autry. Foran had a really nice singing voice and I always thought he should have done more musicals, his tenor was far more suitable to those roles. In fact he eventually did star on Broadway in a revival of A Connecticut Yankee.

In this film Foran is accused of murder and we meet him performing in a wild west show as he is a fugitive on said charge. But when he hears of the widow of the deceased Sheila Bromley going to claim her inheritance with son Dick Jones, Foran and sidekick go back to clear his name and set things right for her. The sidekick was George E. Stone who is clearly more suitable to urban type films.

A couple of real bottom feeding villains in Robert Barrat and Joe Sawyer are the folks responsible and of course they're brought to justice. Another cowboy hero to be, Wild Bill Elliott, has a small role as another friend of Foran's.

Foran sings the title song and the much better known Covered Wagon Days and does them well. The plot is a little silly however, especially when Dick Jones almost turns the tables on the good guys by going out to 'help'.

Not a bad film and certainly better than the B westerns coming from poverty row outfits, still could have used a little improvement.
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