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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The Silence of the Guns

Author: Leslie Howard Adams ( from Texas
19 March 2007

Over half of the 69-minutes running time is taken up with the twelve songs and discussions of which ranch will win the "singing championship" at the upcoming Frontier Days Celebration, so those folks who love to submit gun,gunfight,gunfighter, gunplay,held at gunpoint,gang, henchman, henchmen,running gunfight, outlaw,lawman,law and order, and fall from horse...and such as keywords on westerns are out of luck on this'un. And, even though the hero's character name is Steve, this'un ain't no Durango-Kid keyword picture, either.

In this'un, Columbia gathered up regional radio performers---Red River Dave/Dave McEnery from San Antonio, Joy May Creasy/Cousin Emmy from KMOX in St. Louis and the Hoosier Hotshots from Chicago's WLS---tossed in the King Cole Trio (Nat'King" Cole) from records, and Conover cover-girl Sally Bliss (later known as Carla Belinda), and several of the studio's current contract-players, such as Jane Frazee, Guinn Williams, Slim Summerville, and Carole Mathews, and, in the process, managed to hack off every front-row-kid in America who bought a ticket expecting to see another shoot-em-ups (book plug.) Ranch foreman Steve Barrett (Red River Dave/Dave McEnery) and "Tiny" Baldwin (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams)are rival ranchers competing to furnish cavalry horses for the U.S.Army during World War Two (known in Keywords as w-w-small "i"-small "i" for some weird reason) but put aside their differences, in order to aid the war effort, with one exception; that, being which ranch wins The Singing Championship at the 1944 Frontier Days Celebration. "Tiny" and his Hoosier Hotshots (Paul and Ken Trietsch, Gil Taylor and Charles Ward) won the 1943 title, but Steve has some hired-guitars of his own in Jimmy Wakely and His Oklahoma Cowboys (Wakely, Foy Willing, Art Wenzle, Arthur "Fiddlin'" Smith and Buddy Ray), not to be confused with Al Clauser and His Oklahoma Outlaws working over at the Republic corral. Eat your amateur heart out, American Idol.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Penny Morrow (Jane Frazee) and Addie LaTour (Mary Treen), two out-of-work actresses from the Chaquita Chitlin' Circuit, have arrived at Steve's spread in search of Northrup Bayless whom Addie has promised to marry through a Lonely Hearts Club. "At Liberty" is not an acting attribute that Addie intends to hang onto. Naturally, Steve thinks they are there in response to his ad for a cook, since Jimmy and his Oklahoma Cowboys are none too pleased with the food from the current cooks, Slim (Slim Summerville) and his sister Judy (Sally Bliss.)Neither Addie nor Penny can cook, but Penny can sing and Steve, knowing that no ranch can have too many singers on the payroll, puts her on the payroll. Plus, with her as an added-ringer he knows he will win the $3,000 prize money and then buy the ranch from the owner, Doreen Nesbitt (Carole Mathews), who has the hots for him but he thinks she is a nuisance.

(Now, right there, is the point at which, even for a non-critical nine-year-old, this whole plot falls apart; there stands Carole Mathews, with side-ways attributes that call for wide-wide screen, she's rich, she owns the ranch and all she wants Steve to do is go bare-back riding and play footsie with her, and couldn't care less if her ranch won the Singing Championship at the 1944 Frontier Days Celebration; this attitude on Steve's part may be an indicator of why his draft status was 4-F.)

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Judy, incensed at being replaced in the kitchen by the new arrivals, who also can't cook, reads about them in a theatrical journal---probably on the At Liberty ad page ---discloses their true profession to Steve, and since the rules of the Singing Contest forbid professionals, Penny can't sing for her keep. And, without her as an extra-added attraction, there ain't no way Steve's outfit is going to beat "Tiny's" Hoosier Hotshots, since they have all the usual western-band instruments, plus a kazoo, clarinet and a washboard.

Steve makes Penny mad and Penny gets mad back, and she and Addie leave in a buckboard. They have barely departed before Steve realizes that he loves Penny, so he saddles up and starts a pursuit chase just about the time the buckboard horses stage a runaway, and Steve rescues them. (Western Keywords THAT CAN BE USED on this'un: chase,pursuit, runaway, wagon, romance, saddle, rescue, horse, man and woman)

But Penny,despite being the benefactor of 'rescue" as a keyword, heads on to town (trail) with Addie (friend), and the next time Steves sees her is when the Frontier Days Clebration opens, and he discovers then working on the midway and a ball-throwing concession. But ol' Slim remembers a rule of the contest that will allow Penny to sing with Steve IF SHE IS engaged (engagement is a keyword) to a ranch employee, and, since the film is nearly over, that doesn't take long to get accomplished. Jane's singing wins the prize for Steve and his Boys.

Addie then learns that the mysterious Northrop Bayless, her husband to be, in none other than Slim. So, Penny and Steve and Slim and Addie all hook up ( in separate pairs ), and "Tiny" and Doreen Nesbitt do likewise. Needless to say, "Tiny' and ever-ready and hot-to-trot Doreen are smiling more than the others.

Sally Bliss changed her name to Carla Belinda and got better roles at RKO...for a short while.

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