In order to end the cattle rustling, Gene Autry becomes one of the first ranchers in his territory to fence in the open range with barbed wire and he incurs the wrath of small-ranch owner Ginger Kirby. Range warfare, fanned by livery stable owner Sandy Reeves, breaks out between the two factions of ranchers to differ on the use of barbed-wire fences. Reeves hopes the fighting will drive the cattlemen out of business and he can use the range for sheep. Gene and Ginger patch up their differences and with the help of Duke Kirby, her younger brother, Autry discovers that Reeves is responsible for most of the trouble. Cowpunchers, believing that the wire will put them out of work and urged on by Reeves, engage Gene's men in a gun battle. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
When stable owner Reeves pins down henchmen Mike and Ed during the posse chase, he tells them to throw down their guns and step out in the open. They do so with their hands in the air, and Reeves shoots them both. However when Gene Autry and the sheriff arrive, both of the men are shown with a gun in their outstretched hands after Reeves says that they were going to fire on him. See more »
Well-done Autry oater, longer than usual (70-min.). I guess I'd never thought about a homely item like barbed wire and its significance before now. Thanks to the movie, however, I know a lot more, and have a greater appreciation. Plot-wise, Gene has to prove the wire's worth to ranchers despite land grabbers who want to sabotage its effectiveness. There's a great scenic climax with more sweep and manpower than usual, along with a lot of hard riding. Those Sierra vistas in the background are majestic as heck, while the guys thread through the rock spires of the familiar Alabama Hills.
Too bad Gene sings only snatches of some classic western tunes. I could have used more of "Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie". No comedy sidekick here, though Buddy Burroughs (Duke) carries the youth angle. I do, however, wonder whether using the towering Tarzan (Mahoney) as a two-fisted foil for Autry was a good idea. Gene may be a heckuva stunt man, but visually Mahoney's got a big edge. And catch the spunky Gail Davis. Unlike most leading ladies, she looks like she belongs outdoors. Speaking of outdoors, these oaters give a geezer like me a chance to get back out in the Big-Open, if only vicariously. I guess you can take the kid out of the matinée, but you can't take the matinée out of the kid.
Anyhow, an "8" on the matinée scale.
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