Radio star Gene Autry returns to his home town of Gold Ridge at the request of his old friend Pop Harrison, who wants Gene to straighten out his wayward son, Tex Harrison, whose gambling and drinking threaten to bankrupt the rodeo organization which he heads. News photographer Clementine "Clem" Benson and reporter Hack Hackett are ordered to follow Gene. The group finds quarters at the "Bar Nothing" dude ranch, winter quarters for Tex's rodeo group, and Tex soon tangles with Hackett in a quarrel. The latter wins a thousand-dollar bag of gold from Sunrise, a miner who has earned his stake digging in the supposedly abandoned mine beneath Gold Ridge. Hackett spots a fugitive Chicago racketeer, Crowley, who is hiding out from the mob he has double-crossed. During a "Frontier Days" celebration, Hackett is killed and the sheriff orders an investigation of all the guns of the performers, who were using blanks, and Tex's gun is found with live ammunition and he is charged with murder because ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
It's another well-produced oater from Gene's Republic period. The story's more plot-heavy than usual, the first half being mainly set-up. It's the second half that has the action, plus an unexpected twist unusual for a matinée. Seems Gene's got to help save a rodeo and a ranch, all in 67-minutes. But not to worry, Gene's got Champion who's a lot more versatile than a road-hugging car. Then too, he's got Frog and his junior sized clone Tadpole. I like their little battle with a runaway ore car in a shadowy tunnel that nicely combines amusement with suspense. In fact the comedy relief is well calibrated, never sliding into the clownish.
Some good stunt work too, especially the axle grabbing beneath a racing wagon, just the sort pioneered by the great stuntman Yakima Canutt. Still, I wish some of the background process shots were more realistic, but that was a technical problem afflicting many films of the period. There're two good bouts of flying fists where Gene shows off his athletic skills. But note a general absence of gunplay, from Gene especially. Also, note the little ditty pushing government bonds, a reflection of 1942 and emergence of WWII. Two of his songs shine at least in my eara charming "Clementine" and the catchy "Tweedle-O-Twill". All in all, the programmer amounts to ace entertainment for Front-Row kids of all ages, including us geezers.
A "7" on the Matinée Scale
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