Wildcat Kelly has been dead and buried for years. Or has he? Dale is a reporter for an Eastern magazine who comes West to find out the true story of Kelly, of whom Gabby seems to have mysterious knowledge.
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Roy, the proprietor of a dude ranch where Gabby is working as a hired hand. Dale is a photojournalist working for "Spread" magazine sent from New York to investigate a long-dead highwayman by the name of "Wildcat" Kelly. After finding out, by snooping around the ranch, that Gabby is in fact "Wildcat" Kelly, she publishes her findings in the magazine and Gabby is shot. Word is put out that Gabby died of the gunshot and a funeral is arranged. During the lying in state, Dale hides near the casket and photographs all the mourners as they pass by the casket. After the ceremony, Gabby reviews all the photos and picks out the man he saw shot him. By means of a description of the kill supplied to the local sheriff the suspected killer is traced to a local nightclub called the Westward Ho. Roy and the Sons of the Pioneers get a job entertaining at the club to try to locate and build a case against the gunman. By having Gabby make an appearance at the club and scaring the gunman into going to ... Written by
"And Listen To The Murmur Of The Cottonwood Trees"
In the George Eells biography of Cole Porter it comes out that Porter while writing the music, did in fact purchase the lyric 'from an antediluvian character' while out west. Probably not unlike Gabby Hayes and the character he plays in the film Don't Fence Me In. The song isn't like any of the sophisticated numbers we normally associate with Porter.
Roy Rogers introduced the film in Warner Brothers Hollywood Canteen where no doubt Jack Warner paid Herbert J. Yates at Republic some real big bucks for his cameo. So it may have evened out that Yates got the rights to Don't Fence Me In for a title song for one of Roy's films at his home studio.
It turned out that this was one of Roy Rogers best westerns with Republic and in it he plays the proprietor of a dude ranch where he keeps the secret of Gabby Hayes, a harmless old codger who spins a lot of tall tales in the Gabby Hayes fashion. But Gabby is really a notorious outlaw from the old west, one Wildcat Kelly who has been presumed dead for almost 40 years. There's a grave for him in the local cemetery.
But the fact that news of his death was greatly exaggerated and that brings Lois Lane type reporter Dale Evans out west for the story. Dale gets that and more including Roy.
Again Roy and Dale really have spark as a screen team, not as sophisticated as Bill Powell and Myrna Loy, but definitely their dialog is pretty good. And the situations are hilarious like Dale hitching a ride in the stagecoach boot with Roy throwing in some Limburger cheese for company and her tossing him in the swimming pool in response.
But besides Roy and Dale's chemistry, Don't Fence Me In has one of the best musical scores of any Rogers film. Besides the title song, Jack Warner apparently threw in My Little Buckaroo which Dick Foran introduced in one of his westerns at Warner Brothers. Roy also sings Along The Navajo Trail which he sang in a previous film of the same title. All three of these songs were big hits by the way for Bing Crosby.
The mystery of Wildcat Kelly is quite an interesting one. I highly recommend Don't Fence Me In as one of the Rogers/Evans best screen team efforts.
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