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"Rodeo King and the Senorita" is one of a series of westerns made by
Republic starring Rex Allen in the Early 50's. I think it was Republic's
final western series.
Considering that it was released in 1951, it is better than most "B" westerns of the period. It has a Roman horse jump, a chariot race, a stage coach race, a horse race, a rodeo and not one but three fights between Allen and perennial heavy Roy Barcroft all crammed into its 67 minute running time. Of course Rex gets to sing a couple of songs too.
The story centers around a little girl's affection for Allen's horse Koko in a rodeo setting.
Playing Allen's sidekick is future TV superstar Buddy Ebsen who does his best with limited material. Mary Ellen Kay plays the heroine and in addition to Barcroft, veteran heavy Tris Coffin plays the chief baddie.
Even at this late stage in the "B" western genre, Republic was still turning out a better product than any of the other studios. "Rodeo King and the Senorita" clearly demonstrated this.
Pleasant showcase for Rex Allen's voice, rodeo skills, and general all-around warmth. The "Senorita" of the title is only eight years old, which is a nice twist. Also, there actually is something of a plot, and moreover it has fewer holes in it than most Roy Rogers or Gene Autry vehicles I've seen (though it certainly has some). A good introduction to Rex, who turned out to be the last of the movies' singing cowboys.
Frequently misidentified as a remake of the 1946 Roy Rogers movie, "My Pal, Trigger," this film has Rex Allen and his horse, Koko, joining a rodeo belonging to a young "senorita" whose father has been killed in a stunt horse jump. Only the audience knows that the father's partner (Tris Coffin) conspired with another rodeo star (Roy Barcroft, in one of his most vicious conniving henchmen roles) to arrange the "accident." The Barcroft character is jealous of Rex's stardom and causes an accident incapacitating Koko. Rex and sidekick Buddy Ebsen (future star of TV's "Beverly Hillbillies" and "Barnaby Jones") are contractually obligated to go with the show, so it falls to the young senorita and her governess (Mary Ellen Kay) to nurse Koko back to health - a process which bonds the horse and girl. When Rex gives his horse to her, Koko becomes the property of the crooked partner. The climax involves a race in which the stake is Rex winning back his horse, and trying to prove the murder conspiracy.
If there was ever any doubt in my mind that Rex Allen was using
material originally meant for Roy Rogers it was settled in this film.
Allen's horse Koko takes center stage here and with Mary Allen Kay as
his ersatz Dale Evans leading lady, no way this was not meant for Roy.
Rex and Koko together with sidekick Buddy Ebsen are hired by Tris Coffin who is running half of a wild west show. Rex is taking the place of Coffin's former partner Buff Brady who was killed while trying a jump on a Roman style team of horses. What no one knows is that fellow rodeo performer Roy Barcroft sabotaged the harness with a little acid. And Coffin accepts him as a silent partner.
Ironically Roy Barcroft who usually plays crafty villains in a Gazillion westerns is really a rather stupid and jealous man here. Coffin might never have even been suspected of villainy on his own had he been able to put a muzzle on Barcroft. But Barcroft was jealous of Brady and now he's jealous of Allen and his horse Koko.
Also wanting Koko is Brady's daughter Bonnie DeSimone who is about 10 years old and has inherited her father's end of the partnership. Coffin though is cheating her out of her end of things.
Mary Ellen Kay who was being groomed as another Dale Evans by Republic Pictures Herbert J. Yates is DeSimone's guardian. She and Rex make some beautiful music singing and not singing. And the little girl falls in love with Koko after Barcroft injures him and she nurses him back to health. Rex almost gives him up and I can't Roy Rogers doing that with Trigger under any circumstances.
Rodeo King And The Seniorita is a pleasant enough Rex Allen western. But I also can't figure out why no investigation into Brady's death was done as a matter of routine.
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