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Utilizing a script from 1939's "She Married a Cop" with a 1946 Hit Parade song for the title, Gene Autry's screen return following his WW II Army Air Corps service, "Sioux City Sue" has Hollywood talent scout Sue Warner (Lynne Roberts) in search of a singing cowboy and finding and offering cattle rancher Gene Autry (Gene Autry) a contract. He agrees to go to Hollywood if there is a part for his horse Champion. Gene isn't aware they only want to use his voice in an animated cartoon. After the preview, he and Champ depart in a huff (Well, actually, Champ was in a trailer). The annoyed Sue also follows and gets work on Gene's ranch as a cook. Later, the studio heads, while looking at Gene's screen test, decide he is a natural and want to sign him to a contract. After a few misunderstandings, Gene realizes that Sue is sincere, and he signs a contract to star in a musical western, but first he has to stop a cattle stampede and rout a gang of rustlers trying to blow up his ranch dam. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I hoped you let me stay around for a while.
I don't think you'd like ranching. It's hard work.
I can earn my keep.
You know anything about horses?
Do I! I parlayed a two dollar bet into a bundle that big!
[Sue holds her fingers three inches apart]
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This action-filled Gene Autry entry indicates that Gene had lost none of his horse-opera appeal to his legion of fans following his service to our country in World War II. This was one of Gene's last films at Republic to fulfill his contract before ending his screen career with Columbia over another ten-year period, a decade which saw Gene successfully make the transition from movies to the new medium of television, which along with wise investments made him one of the wealthiest men around.
As a kid in the early 50's, I saw tons of Saturday matinée fodder. Most I don't recall, though I do remember the cowboy stars and their sidekicks. "Sioux City Sue" is an exception. I vividly remember the cartoon of the donkey with Gene Autry's voice warbling "Ridin' Double." In those halcyon days, big Hollywood stars thought it condescending to talk for cartoon characters, unlike today when movie icons find it highly lucrative and completely acceptable by their fans to be the voice of animated figures. In 1946, voice impersonators such as Mel Blanc often imitated stars such as Bogart, Bette Davis, and Gable, but those matinée idols would never have consented to do the voices themselves. Knowing that, today's viewer can well understand how embarrassing a western personage such as Gene Autry would feel seeing an animated donkey lip sync to one of his songs. That is also why this sequence is so memorable for the ones who saw it when released or re-released.
There is no Smiley Burnette to assist Gene with the songs and humor. He was now tied up with other partners, Sunset Carson, Charles Starrett, and the like. Pat Buttram had yet to enter the picture. Actually, for his first post-war outing, Gene has no comical sidekick. The marvelous Sterling Holloway (who later was the voice of an animated character of his own, "Winnie the Pooh") is in cahoots with those attempting to exploit Gene's talents. Though comical, he is a sycophant for the studio big wigs.
There are several good songs in "Sioux City Sue," even if it is easy to tire quickly of the title ditty, one of the big hits of 1946. Woody Guthrie's "Oklahoma Hills" is one of his best, co-written by Woody's cousin who recorded the hit version of this autobiographical creation. Besides "Oklahoma Hills," the other gem is Jimmy Hodges's "Someday You'll Want Me To Want You," recorded by many artists over the years, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Brenda Lee, and Ray Charles. Gene does such an admirable job singing it that he repeats it three times before the film is over. His amour is the captivating Lynne Roberts who plays Sioux City Sue Warner. Helping Gene in the singing department are the Cass County Boys, not the Sons of The Pioneers but not bad.
The story is easy to follow. A Hollywood studio looking for a singing cowboy finds Gene and in the process nearly bankrupts him. He is offered a part in a picture, not knowing that it is a voice over for a cartoon. Humiliated Gene walks out of the film preview. Sue Warner becomes distraught over the situation and seeks forgiveness. Testing her sincerity, Gene offers her the job of chief cook and bottle washer. She comes to love the ranch and the cowboy way of life. In the meantime, the studio head sees the film footage of the real-life Gene in action and orders his underlings to find the cowboy and sign him up. One of the men Gene had a run-in with and beat up decides to get revenge by blowing up the dam to flood Gene's ranch and drown his cattle. This segment of the picture is one of the highlights, with effective camera shots and daredevil stunt work.
"Sioux City Sue" lets everyone know that Gene Autry is back in town and ready for action.
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