Gene and Frog head down to Mexico, hot on the trail of a group of swindlers who convince townspeople to invest in movies to be filmed on location in their town, and then skip out without making the films. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
TOPS EVERY OTHER AUTRY HIT - Gene in his most likeable role...more songs...more thrills...more beautiful senoritas...a glamorous screen production that gives the most in entertainment and fun! (original poster)
Somewhat a sequel to South of the Border but not nearly as good
One of my favorite Gene Autry films is 1939's "South of the Border." The title song around which the film was based was one of Gene's best. It was actually written by Michael Carr and Jimmy Kennedy two men from the United Kingdom who had never set foot in the Americas. Yet there is beauty in its simplicity and melody. Plus it makes the listener think of exotic Mexico with its Spanish missions, Native American cultures, and pretty senoritas dancing. "South of the Border" was also successful at the box office. And Gene's recording of the title song was a best seller. "Down Mexico Way" two years later with some of the same actors hoped to repeat the success of "South of the Border." Gene even sang the title song once more. Alas, "Down Mexico Way" is not nearly as good.
One weakness of "Down Mexico Way" is the story. Even though written by one of the same writers, Dorrell McGowan, it is not much of a story. It seems a crew of scam artists purporting to be big-time Hollywood producers are fleecing naive locals out of their savings, then moving on. After fleecing Gene and his friends the charlatans feeling the heat cross the border into Mexico to join partners in the same scam there. Gene and Frog try to head them off. One of the intended victims happens to have a beautiful daughter who catches Gene's eye. Not too much happens until near the end when there is a wild chase involving motorcycles with sidecars, a getaway automobile, and men on horseback, including Gene who does some outlandish riding on Champion including some daredevil leaping which ends with a fisticuffs in the backseat of a runaway car.
Another weakness is the unfunny shenanigans of Harold Huber who plays Pancho Grande, sort of a Mexican Frog Millhouse, as if Frog's humor wasn't lame enough already. Too bad the talented actor Duncan Renaldo (The Cisco Kid) wasn't given a larger role. He is wasted in a bit part toward the end of the movie.
There are a few notables in the cast. One is Sidney Blackmer as one of the bad guys. This distinguished actor is now best remembered for his role as Roman Castevet in "Rosemary's Baby" toward the end of his career. The character actor Joe Sawyer plays one of the heavies. The viewer will remember his face if not his name. And future singing cowboy star and country music songwriter Eddie Dean can be seen briefly as one of the barbecue guests.
The music is good even though there are no songs written by Frog who was a much better songwriter and musician than he was a clown. Gene even sings the old standard "Beer Barrel Polka," cleaned up for the kids to "Role Out The Barrel." There are three Spanish-flavored songs included, the enchanting "Maria Elena," which is also the name of the pretty senorita, "Guadalajara," and "A Gay Ranchero."
Though this is not one of Gene's best, his many fans should still enjoy it.
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