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Riders in the Sky (1949)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Music  |  13 February 1953 (West Germany)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 101 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 3 critic

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 »

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Title: Riders in the Sky (1949)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Champion ...
Champ, Gene's Horse
...
Anne Lawson
Mary Beth Hughes ...
Julie Stewart
Robert Livingston ...
Rock McCleary
Steve Darrell ...
Ralph Lawson
...
Marshal Riggs
Tom London ...
Old Man Roberts
...
Chuckwalla
Hank Patterson ...
Luke, Stagecoach Driver
Ben Welden ...
Bartender Dave
...
Henchman Bud Dwyer
Joseph Forte ...
Engineer Agnew (as Joe Forte)
Kenne Duncan ...
Henchman Travis
Frank Jaquet ...
Coroner
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Storyline

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 business with his pal Chuckawalla Jones (Pat Buttram) but decides instead to help Anne Lawson (Gloria Henry) clear her father, rancher Ralph Lawson (Steve Darrell'), of a false murder charge. He looks for the three witnesses who can testify that Lawson shot only in self defense in killing a gambler, but the witnesses are terrorized by another gambler, town boss Rock McCleary (Robert Livingston), who shoots witness Pop Roberts (Tom London)Morgan. Fatally wounded, Pop gives Gene the information needed to clear Lawson, then dies crying the "Ghost Riders" are coming for him. Gene then heads for a showdown with McCleary. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

GENE'S GREAT singing the greatest cowboy song hit in his greatest adventure drama! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Music | Western

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 February 1953 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Beyond the Purple Hills  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Former Forest Ranger Stan Jones wrote "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky," a hit big enough that it crossed over from country-western charts to standard pop music. A chance meeting with Jones led Gene Autry to buy the rights to the song, and he gave Jones a part in the film. A nearly-complete Autry movie, "Beyond the Purple Hills," was quickly retooled to include the song. Jones himself appears as a cowboy riding herd with Autry in the opening and closing scenes, singing along with Gene's rendition of the spooky song. That same year, Vaughn Monroe had topped the charts with his version (#1 US Pop for 22 weeks). Over the years, many others have recorded it including Peggy Lee, Willie Nelson , Frankie Laine, Johnny Cash, The Marshall Tucker Band and The Doors. Stan Jones would later compose the title song to the classic TV western series Cheyenne (1955). See more »

Goofs

When Gene puts McCleary in the stage at the end of their fight, it appears that McCleary still has a gun in his holster. See more »

Quotes

Chuckwalla Jones: Oh, ah, say Gene, you didn't have no trouble gettin' the, ah...
[makes money sign with thumb and forefinger]
Gene Autry: Got the money right here in my pocket - a roll big enough to choke Champ on.
Chuckwalla Jones: Oh, don't give him no ideas. He'd eat it, too, if it was green enough.
See more »

Connections

Edited into Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Cowboy's Lament
(Streets of Laredo)
Traditional
Sung by Gene Autry
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Dull programmer, redeemed by the title song and 1 powerful sequence
26 September 2000 | by (London) – See all my reviews

For the most part this is a movie only of interest to Autry enthusiasts and those who like the superb title song (around which the script was presumably cobbled together). Sure enough, the song pops up twice and is easily the film's highlight on each occasion. The way that it is sung here, with emotion and zeal, and the mythic quality of its lyrics means that it transcends the B-material in which it is embedded.

The exception to boredom is the sequence in the film where the song plays out over the stark mono images of the old timer's grizzled face (as a character he dies shortly afterwards.) For an all too brief few minutes the power of the music asserts itself and the cinematography comes alive in high contrast black and white photography. The old timers' face becomes epic, stark, and deeply moving. In fact, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, I was reminded of Eisenstein's framing of facial 'types' in his Alexander Nevsky or October. So poetically powerful is this scene that it seems to have wondered in from another, more prestigious, movie (a good Western candidate being perhaps Anthony Mann's The Furies, where such stylisation abounds).

Then like a pan handler's lucky strike, the moment of glory fades and we are back to cinematic mediocrity, and a negligible, undramatic oater of most interest to hard core fans and completists.


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