In his starring debut Roy gets elected to congress in order to bring water to the ranchers in his district. In Washington he learns he needs the backing of a key congressman and gets that man to go west for an inspection trip. When the Congressman is initally unimpressed, Roy gets the inspection party stranded without water to show the true conditions. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
This was originally scheduled as a Gene Autry vehicle (under the title "Washington Cowboy") but Roy Rogers was substituted into the lead role after a salary dispute between Autry and the Republic studios. Autry received no screen credit for the songs he had co-written for the picture (including the Oscar-nominated "Dust") and sued the studio, although the case was eventually settled out of court. See more »
Roy Goes To Congress In His First Starring Feature Film
Considering Roy Rogers politics which favored the Christian Right, his debut film as a singing cowboy star is a most unusual one. He's essentially Billy Jack some thirty years ahead of time.
Roy plays the son of a late Congressman who fought on behalf of the small ranchers who are being starved out because of the dam the water power company has built and the exorbitant rates being charged. Definitely a film of the New Deal times.
After some typical direct cowboy action in dealing with the company Roy decides maybe Washington is the proper venue for dealing with the problem. He runs against flannel-mouth Congressman Dick Elliott who, thanks to some action by sidekick Smiley Burnette, gets dumped in a horse trough during his re-election campaign. A place more of our elected officials should visit unannounced.
Roy's made wise to ways of Washington by Carol Hughes who is the daughter of the water power company president, but has a hankering for Roy just the same. Then it's back to the west for some more of the kind of riding and shooting action not usually normal with Congressmen.
Under Western Stars was an interesting film in another way. Very soon such local country&western performers like Jimmie Davis in Louisiana, Wilbert Lee O'Daniel in Texas, and Glen H. Taylor in Idaho would be elected governors and/or senators from their respective states with just the kind of country singing campaign Roy does in this film. Maybe Under Western Stars had more influence than originally thought.
This picture even got an Oscar nomination, for the song Dust for Best Song of 1938. The rather more well known Thanks for the Memory was the winner that year. But Dust is a highly dramatic item, sung by Roy as he's narrating a newsreel he put together about the dust bowl conditions in the west.
Under Western Stars is a decent enough B western and definitely a worthy item for the King of the Cowboys to step up and claim his crown.
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