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Gene Autry only made two movies in color and this is one of them, sort
of a cheap-looking process known as cine color that actually takes away
rather than adds to the total effect of this south of the border
western. If Edison Et Al had had the technology to make the first
movies in color then possibly we wouldn't know anything about black and
white films. But since few movies were made in color until the 1950's
because of the expense involved we have grown used to seeing the old
Saturday matinée cowboy shoot 'em ups in black and white. Seeing the
few that exist in color somehow causes the viewer to lose interest
while watching. With a big budget John Ford was able to make color work
for the classic "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," but this was not true for
the B films of the day.
There is another problem with this Gene Autry western. Where is the comical sidekick? There is a lame attempt to provide a Mexican stand-in, but he is no Cisco Kid's Pancho or Tim Holt's Chito. I kept looking for a Smiley, a Pat Buttram, or a Pokie. Though Smiley is not present one of his songs is sung by Gene. Smiley, who was one of the most talented songwriters of his day, would sometimes sell his songs to Gene, but Gene would go ahead and put Smiley's name on the music with his, so it would be a 50/50 deal. There is an unintentionally funny opening. Gene is strumming his guitar and singing a love song to what appears to be a man behind a counter smoking a cigarette. No woman is present. It turns out that Gene is showing the guy how good his guitar sounds because he is pawning it for gas money.
There is a good performance by Estrellita Estrada. I don't recall seeing her in other films. I read that she was typecast to playing senorita-type roles and ultimately retired from the cinema.
The action is so-so and overall the film is not as good as many of Gene's earlier ones, still worthwhile for his many fans.
Gene's got Columbia studio backing here, which means a bigger budget
than usual. In fact the 80-minutes run-time, including Technicolor and
good production values, puts this feature in a B-western category
instead of Gene's usual matinée format.
The plot's more complex than usual, with Gene switching sides in a struggle over ranchero land in Mexico. At first, he's unknowingly on the side of the baddies until he finds out the true score. Then too, catch the climax with the guy just driving off (without my telling too much)very unusual for Gene's movies. So, all in all, you can see Columbia was trying to stretch the matinée formula.
Not much fast shooting, but some good hard riding. Highlights include, an impressive cattle herd, lots of colorful desert scenery, and Gene warbling the catchy 'My Adobe Hacienda'. But most of all, a really spirited Elena Verdugo as Senorita Estelita who pretty much steals the show, unlike most matinée leading ladies. Anyway, it's not among Gene's best, but does have more than its share of compensations.
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