Governor Jimmie Davis in Monogram singing western, minus the shootouts
What a phenomenon the late Governor Jimmie Davis was. Film was just a small part of his long and successful career. After his somewhat- fictionalized film autobiography "Louisiana" was a hit for Monogram in 1947, the studio created this vehicle for him two years later. After a slow start on a riverboat (reminding me of the studio-bound Riverboat in the Universal serial Mystery of the Riverboat), the film kicks into gear when Davis goes to Montana (!!!) and sets out to take on a crooked town boss and land developer. Except for the musical sequences, of which there are a few including a full show featuring blackface minstrel routines (now you can actually see Lee Lasses White, better known as a western sidekick, doing his minstrel routine, described in Nick Tosches' book about Emmett Miller), the plot could be taken from any Johnny Mack Brown or Whip Wilson monogram western of the time, except that there isn't as much fistfighting and shootouts as you'd see in a western. Davis has an appealing laid-back yet authoritative style, but musical westerns (and this is a western, even if it has a Mississippi River "feel" to it) were on the way out in 1949, and Davis had a political career and business pursuits back home, so this was his last starring role (he appeared in Monogram's SQUARE DANCE KATY the next year, which starred Vera Vague, but the film was not a vehicle for him as this one is). It's an interesting curio and a real slice of Americana in that Davis is surely one 20th Century America's most colorful and interesting characters with a life story much too long and complicated to recite here. Governor Davis lived to be 101 (!!!) and dusting off this film would be a nice way to remember him (although I'd imagine today's networks would have to trim the minstrel show routines before airing).. as well as listening to his late 20s/early 30s double-entendre bluesy- country recordings issued on two Bear Family LPs in the 1980s.
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