When Roy, Rusty, and Tommy join the Border Patrol, Tommy gets killed in a saloon fight by Arizona Jack. Suspended from duty, Roy and Rusty cross the border looking for the killer. Arizona Jack and mining engineer Lanning are running a gold smuggling racket and when Roy and Rusty find Arizona's hideout, his gang captures them and they are slated to be killed. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This action-packed Roy Rogers oater is filled with chases, fisticuffs, and shoot-outs with little music to slow it down. Roy does sing a couple of songs, one when serenading Dorothy Blair (Mary Hart) while she tells him all she knows about the situation, the other in the Catina near the beginning of the film. Roy was one of the best of the singing cowboys. He helped start the Sons of the Pioneers. The only other singing cowboy that could out sing Roy was Tex Ritter. Not everyone knows that Roy was one of the best yodelers in show business. Yodeling is no longer a lost art. Pop singer Jewel and country singer Suzy Bogguss do some yodeling every now and again. Yodeling reached its peak in the entertainment industry during the 1920's with the blue yodeler Jimmie Rodgers. It began tapering off in the 1930's. In the Catina number, Roy ends the song by letting go some of the best yodeling you're likely to hear on the big screen. This is an added treat for his many fans.
Roy's comical sidekick this outing is Raymond Hatton with his mule Dinah. Hatton was a dedicated actor but not much in the way of comedy. He looked and talked funny but his humor was lame. Eddie Acuff appears at the beginning of the movie to help with the clowning but is taken out by the bad guys early on. Gabby Hayes was sorely needed.
Roy's early movies sometimes centered on historical events and real-life characters such as Jesse James and Billy the Kid. This early Roy Rogers western deals with Theodore Roosevelt's band of cowboys and misfits known as the Rough Riders who won world-wide fame during the Spanish American War in 1898. "Rough Riders' Round-Up" takes place at the turn of the 20th century when a troupe of Rough Riders led by Roy are searching for more adventure this time as border guards along the Mexican border. Roy pulls the first punch when a William Jennings Bryan supporter is bad-mouthing Roosevelt. It is not clear what election is being touted but for the time frame it would have to be when Roosevelt was running for Vice-President with William McKinley. The movie leads one to believe that Roosevelt is running for President against Bryan even though that is not specified. Why the film is called "Rough Riders' Round-up" is unclear. I failed to see any cattle in the movie to round-up.
As border guards, the Rough Riders remnants are ordered to find outlaw Arizona Jack. Arizona Jack and his gang steal gold, kidnap Dorothy Blair, and hide out across the border. The rest of the show involves rescuing Dorothy and bringing Arizona Jack and his henchmen to justice.
Roy is just beginning his career in the movies and so he and the producers are still working on his image that would eventually lead to his moniker "King of the Cowboys." The present generation of movie goers finds it difficult to comprehend just how popular Roy was with the Saturday matinée crowd. I remember seeing westerns at a theater in my hometown in northern Arkansas in the early 1950's. When the previews of coming attractions flitted on the screen and Tim Holt or other popular six-gun heroes were shown the theater remained calm. But when Roy Rogers was advertised the whole movie house went crazy. The kids would scream, yell, throw popcorn, and cause a quiet riot. The manager would flip the lights on and off a few times, send ushers up and down the aisles, and sometimes even stop the show to restore order. That's how popular Roy was in those days.
There are a few surprises in the cast. Look for future western star and husband of Dinah Shore, George Montgomery, in a bit part as a telegrapher. Duncan Renaldo, the future Cisco Kid, plays the chief Mexican police official. Glenn Strange, who would later play the Frankenstien monster in films after Boris Karloff tired of the role, can be seen in a small part. There is an array of henchmen from Republic's gallery of outlaws including Budd Osborne and George Chesebro. The viewer may not recognize the names but will know all the familiar faces.
Director Joseph Kane who would go on to direct many a television western in that medium's early years does a routine but adequate job behind the camera. There is a major criticism of his methods. Why did he shoot most of the action sequences at night? Budget perhaps. At times it's hard to see some of the action shots because of the darkness. Otherwise, a good introduction to Roy Rogers films for the uninitiated. For the fans: Get ready for some straight shooting.
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