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Riders in the Sky (1949)

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 »



(story), (screenplay)


Cast overview, first billed only:
Champ - Gene's Horse
Anne Lawson
Julie Stewart
Rock McCleary
Ralph Lawson
Marshal Riggs
Old Man Roberts
Luke - Stagecoach Driver
Dave - Bartender
Bud Dwyer - Henchman
Joseph Forte ...
Agnew - Engineer (as Joe Forte)
Travis - Henchman


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


ONE OF THE GREATEST OF COWBOY SONGS SINCE "THE LAST ROUND-UP" AND "SOUTH OF THE BORDER" launches Gene on his most stirring adventure! See more »




Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 February 1953 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Beyond the Purple Hills  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 (1950), 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. Jones would later compose the title song to the classic TV western series Cheyenne (1955). See more »


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 »


J.B. Galloway, District Attorney: Say, you and Chuckwalla meant that about quitting and buying a ranch?
Gene Autry: Yeah, we're leavin' today. Thought we'd just start ridin' until we run onto something we liked.
J.B. Galloway, District Attorney: Well, if it doesn't work out, don't come back to me for a job... just reach into that top drawer and pin your own badge on.
See more »


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


Cowboy's Lament
(Streets of Laredo)
Sung by Gene Autry
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User Reviews

Best Song of 1949
11 February 2011 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Great rendition of the title song in the opening scene. The tune did indeed take the country by storm in that long ago year. The movie's plot is more complex than usual. I understand from IMDb that a second storyline-- one to justify the title-- was added to an almost completed first one, resulting in two story threads. One involves the old man (Tom London) and the ghost rider effects; the other involves the crooked Mc Cleary and the main plot line. The screenplay itself does a pretty good job combining the two. The real Gene was never one to pass up a good business opportunity, along with his ability to spot a popular song hit when he heard it. Both are in evidence here.

Except for the "ghost rider" angle and effects, the movie is fairly standard matinée action. Gloria Henry shows a lot of spunk as good girl Anne, helping to liven up the talk. However, old movie buffs can take special pleasure in catching cult favorite Mary Beth Hughes in a patented role of brassy blonde saloon girl. And check out that hat she sports in one scene-- it's big enough to shade a whole army. Also, Alan Hale Jr., the skipper on Gilligan's Island, puts in an appearance as a marshal. But it's the title song and ghostly effects that most mark this entry as one for Autry fans to catch.


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