Bells of Capistrano (1942) Poster

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Good Fun
antonio195213 February 2001
Gene Autry has a special talent that makes his movies so appealing. A warm voice and a honest performance and Republic's skill at action makes this a winner. Virginia Gray is very good looking and talented actress to boot.

You can't go wrong with this one. 7 out of 10
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Feuding Rodeos
bkoganbing29 January 2012
Gene Autry's last film for Republic Pictures before leaving for war service in the Army Air Corps is this item. Bells Of Capistrano finds him and sidekicks Smiley Burnette and Joe Strauch getting involved in helping to save a rodeo from going bankrupt and being taken over by a competitor.

The show is being run by boss lady Virginia Grey and when her adoptive parents Lucien Littlefield and Claire DuBrey hire Autry as a singer, she's skeptical feeling they need some hard riding cowboys for the various events. But Gene shows he's up to that and his singing all of a sudden starts bringing in the cash customers.

Which is of concern to villains Tris Coffin and Morgan Conway. Coffin opts for traditional villainy, but Conway is opening up an all fronts offensive which includes romancing Grey. That does not sit well with his girlfriend, Marla Shelton.

Gene sings some nice songs in this which include that old Ruth Etting favorite At Sundown. And in keeping with the times and Autry's personal decision to enlist in the Armed Forces there is a rousing patriotic cowboy finale.

Gene Autry went to war on a relatively high note cinema wise. Bells Of Capistrano should please his legion of fans.
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"Besides, what would a cowboy do with ten dollars a day?"
classicsoncall16 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Just like Gene Autry's 1941 picture "Down Mexico Way", this is another one of his films I would like to have seen done in color, especially the scenes of the rodeo parade and the Spanish dancers in their varied costumes. A tip of the hat here to reviewer 'bkoganbing' who explains the rationale for the patriotic tribute to America finale which otherwise seemed disconnected to the rest of the story. For young viewers who probably have never seen one, there's a great shot of a large American flag boasting forty eight stars before Alaska and Hawaii entered the Union. Very cool to see that.

In this flick, Gene attempts to save the World Wide Wild West Show and Rodeo from bankruptcy, hiring on as a 'crooner' and helping the show to outdraw a competitor, the Johnson Brothers Rodeo. Now thinking about this, and considering how big the country was at the time (forty eight states, remember?), it seemed rather dubious to me that two competing rodeo shows would be touring in the same area, but that's just me. The brothers who run the competition have opposing styles; Jed Johnson (Tris Coffin) is the obvious villain of the two, while Stag (Morgan Conway) is a more congenial sort who tries to romance his way into ownership of World Wide by wooing owner Jennifer Benton (Virginia Grey). It might have worked too if Gene hadn't come along.

Even though Smiley Burnette is on hand as Gene's sidekick Frog Millhouse, he goes missing for a good part of the picture after he's introduced. That was kind of curious to me as he's often on screen long enough to goof around or play some home-made musical instrument and join in on a tune. That didn't happen here, even with Joe Strauch Jr. tagging along as Smiley's young pal Tadpole.

As I close in on seeing almost every one of Gene's pictures via Encore Westerns, it's pretty obvious that his movies recycled similar themes. With this one it's surprising to note that the rodeo theme was used as a backdrop twice in the same year. 1942's "Home in Wyomin'" also found Gene Autry attempting to save a Western troupe from bankruptcy.
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