With a longer-than-usual running time on original release and booked and sold to the exhibitors as a "Gene Autry Special", which Republic would do once a year from 1939-1943 in order to get higher rates than on the regular series entries from the theatre owners. Hey, Jimmy Durante and Ann Miler cost more than Smiley Burnette and June Storey. This "special",(which alternates between tongue-in-cheek and for-real and hard to distinguish which is which since there was very little for-real in most of the fantasy-land settings Autry's Republic films were laid in), finds Gene returning to his hometown of Torpedo as guest of honor at the Frontier Days Celebraion, Once there, he encounters his childhood enemies, the Wildhack brothers (Barton MacLane, Joe Sawyer and Horace MacMahon in pecking order), now the local gangsters (and playing it with relish.) The Wildhacks own a saloon next door to the school, and when their shooting and brawling endangers the safety of the children, Gene protests ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The 'Melody Ranch' set built for this film consisted of a long, one story house and a much larger gambrel-roof barn with a practical interior. The house portion's exterior was revamped after filming, and the set was a fixture on Republic's back lot for several years. It was featured in the show My Three Sons (1960). See more »
Take your #1 Box Office Star of Republic Pictures, GENE AUTRY the 'Singing Cowboy' sensation. Now insert a love interest in a very young ANN MILLER, 'Tops In Taps'. Support GENE with comedic side-kicks JIMMY DURANTE and GEORGE 'Gabby' HAYES with character actors like JEROME COWAN. Garner in a opposition more suitable too a Warner Brothers (WB) gangster film, like BARTON MacLANE, JOE SAWYER and HORACE McMAHON. Then add in the typical mixture of GENE singing and two-fisted Republic action and you have MELODY RANCH (1940).
The plot is typical of a AUTRY film. Set in a West that is a cross-breed of 1890 and 1940. GENE needs to promote his Radio career, bring 'law and order' to a town gone wrong and win the girl. This is effectively done in 84" which is rather longer then the typical Republic 'oater' of the time. The interesting thing is while GENE and the rest act like this is part of the 'Old West', MacLANE, SAWYER and McMAHON perform as if they are working with CAGNEY in N.Y.C. circa 1936 at the WB.
The better AUTRY's as well as the ROY ROGERS films are generally a good watch most coming in at a IMDb Six******Stars. They are entertaining and both Stars will easily transition to the new medium Television. Not surprising, since Republic's economy and speed of production was well suited as a training ground for T.V.
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