When asked about the Ghost Riders song he sings, Gene Autry (Gene Autry) tells this legend: Gene is about to resign as an investigator for the county attorney and go into the cattle ... See full summary »
Rancher Blaze Barker returns to Dead Falls after being framed by land-grabbers and spending two years in jail. Paroled, he can't wear a gun, but is aided by Marshal Fargo Steele. The gang ... See full summary »
Johnny Mack Brown,
When two of their Marshal friends are killed, the Rough Riders are sent to investigate. They have to find the killers in a ghost town where the houses and an old mine are interconnected by secret passages and tunnels.
Safely from behind some shrubbery, Johnny Hume, a boy of 6 or 7, witnesses the slaughter of his mother, father and brother by the guns of a gang led by "the Cat". Twenty years later finds ... See full summary »
Johnny Mack Brown,
Finding Indians stealing from his ranch, Gene learns they are suffering from malnutrition. Store owner Martin is cheating them and now he is after the Chief's valuable necklace. When the dying chief is found, having been attacked and robbed, Martin blames Lakhona who would become the new chief. When Gene helps Lakhona they soon find themselves fleeing from the law. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
An unusually sensitive and positive portrayals of American Indians.
The assumption is that back in the old films, American Indians were always on the warpath and were basically evil. While that might be true in a few films, most westerns (especially the B- westerns) made a much worse mistake--they acted as if the West was completely independent of these indigenous people. In other words, they were mostly absent from the films. Because of this, it was great to see "The Cowboy and the Indians"---a highly unusual film for its time due to its focus on the natives as well as its sensitive portrayal of them. Because of this, this film manages to rise above the humble roots as a B-movie.
When the film begins, Gene (Gene Autry) has just bought a ranch and he is angry. After all, the local tribe has their sheep grazing on the land and they are clearly trespassing. In a huff, Gene goes to confront them. However, his anger quickly dissipates when he sees the sorry state that they are in--with malnutrition and illness wracking these people. Soon, he's determined to investigate why they are so poor and hungry. It seems that a scum-bag named Martin and his cronies are exploiting the natives and are stealing from these already destitute people. Gene's anger has been aroused and with a nice doctor and a war hero member of the tribe (Jay Silverheels), he's determined to bring justice to the west.
Like most of Autry's westerns, this is set in the present day and the film goes way out of its way to present the Indians far better than they'd been shown in the past. They are seen as heroes, patriots and all-around decent folk. Additionally, while they need help, they are not helpless nor are they stupid--as the two leading American Indians in the film are extremely well- educated and do NOT talk in broken English (this must have been a relief for Silverheels who OFTEN was forces to utter lines that made him sound a bit like Charlie Chan--with very few objects in sentences!). Overall, a wonderful change from the typical western of the day and a film well worth seeing.
By the way, if you do see the film look for Hank Peterson as one of Gene's friends--he later played Mr. Zipfel on "Green Acres". Also, at the end, Gene croons one of his biggest hits from earlier in his career, "Here Comes Santa Claus"--and it's a classic.
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