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The titular character (Roy Rogers) and Gabby Hayes assist a military
land survey through dangerous Indian territory. When the young surveyor
in charge is secretly blackmailed into cheating a Spanish landowner out
of a large portion of his property, Roy and Gabby immediately suspect
something's up and vow to get to the bottom of the situation, despite
an impending Indian uprising.
Like most Republic B-westerns and other adventures of the late thirties and early forties, this has great atmosphere, striking visuals, and well-staged action sequences. However, this time around the story is a bit typical. Still, the cinematography, direction by the great Joseph Kane, and the performances by Rogers and Hayes make this worth recommending to fans of the genre.
Leading lady Pauline Moore is quite lovely too.
Bill Cody and friend Gabby Whitaker are called on by the US Army to survey the New Mexico territory. Don Regas is not happy with the survey since he feels that the Army is out to cheat or rob him of his rightful land (through a Spanish grant), but is assured by Cody that all will be fair. The Don's friend Emelio Montez is actually trying to acquire part of the Don's land since there is a rich gold mine on the property and calls on his half-brother, a renegade Indian chief Akuna to kill the Don so that the claim will be open and ready for filing, especially when the surveyor is in the debt to Montez and fixes the boundaries so the land is open for anyone to file. When Cody learns of Montez' plot, he races to protect the claim as well as the Don's daughter Tonia from Akuna's wrath. The film never quite has the ability to take off and is just an ordinary oater despite the characters and setting for a great film. Moore and Sothern are out of their acting range and Pendleton is very flat in his portrayal. The rest of the cast's performances and story could have been a lot better, but there is some mighty fine photography and locations used here. Rating, based on B westerns, 5.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You would think that a film with the title "Young Buffalo Bill" would
have something to do with it's title character hunting bison on the
open plains, or at least doing some scout work and tracking for the
Army like the historical Bill Cody did. Instead, this picture's Buffalo
Bill (Roy Rogers) teams with sidekick Gabby Hayes to do survey work in
the New Mexico Territory. Their assignment is to verify the boundaries
of some old Spanish land grants while assigned to Colonel Joseph
Calhoun's (Wade Boteler) cavalry unit.
All Roy Rogers films have a villain or two to deal with, and this time it's a pair of half brothers, Comanche Chief Akuna (Chief Thundercloud) and Emilio Montez (Trevoe Bardette). Akuna knows the location of a secret gold mine located in the northern section of Don Regas' (Hugh Sothern) huge rancho, so Montez uses blackmail to force the Colonel's son to tamper with the survey of the Regas spread. Roy, that is, Buffalo Bill and Gabby ride to the rescue amid an Indian attack to save the day for Don Regas and his pretty daughter Tonia (Pauline Moore) with the Cavalry joining in to lend a hand.
Apparently, Republic Pictures found a winning formula with it's star Roy Rogers portraying historical characters because they produced quite a few of them. 1938's "Billy the Kid Returns" got the ball rolling followed by "Days of Jesse James" a year later. Then there was "Young Bill Hickok" in 1940, and another take on the famous outlaw in "Jesse James at Bay" in 1941. Like you have here, these other pictures had just the most tenuous connection to the real life characters, but they sounded cool, and gave matinée fans another reason to catch Roy and Gabby in action.
Excellent performers with a pretty good script -- except it had NOTHING
to do with "Buffalo Bill," and was very anachronistic.
Why Hollywood preferred such stupid generic titles is beyond me. Hollywood almost never got its history right, and really should have avoided such a misleading title.
ANY name would have been preferable because the whole story was fiction. The film I watched is in a collection, Volume 36 of supposedly more than 40 in The Great American Western series from Echo Bridge Home Entertainment.
The quality of the print is generally good, although some scenes seem to be missing or out of place. And that is inexcusable.
All in all, though, I liked and can recommend this.
Roy Rogers is, as nearly always, good, and he sings only two songs. His sidekick is Gabby Hayes, also always good.
The rest of the cast is generally not or little known, yet the quality of the acting is high.
Hank Bell has a good part but is uncredited, a real shame. He deserves better.
Iron Eyes Cody is in it, according to IMDb, but I didn't see him. He too is uncredited.
Chief Thundercloud is the leader of the Comanches, and I think it is one of his largest roles. He is very good with it.
Again, I can recommend it, especially to Rogers or Hayes or Western fans generally.
Added 22 January 2017: You can watch it at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEE9MnW6u7Y
Roy Rogers is in the title role of Young Buffalo Bill and I doubt that
for all of William F. Cody's accomplishments that he sang as pretty as
Roy and sidekick Gabby Hayes, former army bugler are in New Mexico helping the government survey the land. That's an issue of deep concern to Hugh Sothern owner of a large ranch from the days his family got a Spanish land grant from the King of Spain 200 years earlier. It's a big concern to Sothern's granddaughter Pauline Moore for whom Young Buffalo Bill has taken an interest in.
Problems arise when the surveyor, young Steve Pendleton gets himself in some gambling debts and fakes the survey depriving Sothern of a section that contains a lost mine that the Comanches know about. So does Trevor Bardette, half brother to their chief, Chief Thundercloud.
All this intrigue leads up to a mighty fine shootout at the hacienda. That's the climax of the film.
Young Buffalo Bill is another in the long tradition of Hollywood B westerns where a real frontier legend is taken and a wholly fictitious story is written for them. As for Buffalo Bill the closest anyone ever got to telling his story for real is Buffalo Bill And The Indians with Paul Newman. At least this one doesn't pretend to be ground in reality.
And Roy does sing nice with a couple of cowboy ballads, something William F. Cody never did I'm sure.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Joseph Kane directs this dusty western with plenty of action, fierce gun battles, Indians and frontier drama. Everyone's favorite cowboy Roy Rogers plays a young Bill Cody aka Buffalo Bill. Ownership of land grants are in dispute leading to full-scale shoot-outs between the good old boys and angry Indians led by Akuna(Chief Thundercloud). Its going to take Bill Cody and saddle pal Gabby Whittaker(Gabby Hayes)plus a US Cavalry regiment to end the fighting. Roy gets to sing a couple of tunes, "Rollin' Down to Santa Fe" and "Blow, Breeze, Blow". Hayes provides a few things to chuckle at. Other players in the cast: Hugh Sothern, Pauline Moore, Julian Rivero and Wade Boteler.
Roy Rogers stars as "Young Buffalo Bill" Cody, surveying the New Mexico
landscape, fighting off Comanche Indians, and defending a diamond mine.
And, wouldn't you know it? - "Buffalo Bill" had a sidekick named
"Gabby", played by George "Gabby" Hayes! Pauline Moore (as Tonia) adds
some feminine charm to the running time.
The film's highlight is its generous location footage. Not New Mexico, of course, but California; and there are specific sequences are from rocky Vasquez Park, according to IMDb data. Otherwise, this is a very rushed looking western. Produced off of the Roy Rogers Republic western-production-line, with the expected quality control. Mr. Rogers' musical interludes are below par. The story is unimaginative, and you have to wonder about the sobriety of certain cast and crew
** Young Buffalo Bill (1940) Joseph Kane ~ Roy Rogers, George 'Gabby' Hayes, Pauline Moore
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