The last, and aptly-titled, of Gene Autry's starring westerns finds Pony Express rider Gene Autry (Gene Autry) deciding to start a stage line to carry the mail, since with the coming of the telegraph, the need for the Pony Express no longer exists. He is fired by his boss Tom McEwen (John Downey) for being disloyal. Scheming townsmen Clyde Vesey (Howard Wright), Jess Hogan (Arthur Space') and Dutch Murdoch (Gregg Barton), in order to get a government mail contract for themselves, try to discredit McEwen's Pony Express riders by holding up rider Johnny Blair Dickie Jones), who is in love with McEwen's daughter Katie (Kathlee Case'). Gene and his pal Smiley (Smiley Burnette') smash the renegades and finally establish their own stage line, and Gene and which every version of "Champion' (Champion(II)' he was riding at the moment exit after 18 years of genre-changing B-westerns. And leaving with the question of why was a name not seen before on a B-western, Ruth Woodman, credited with the ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Good, strong story line lifts this final Autry programmer above the usual. Just as in real life, Gene sees a good business opportunity where others don't-- in the movie it's stage-line mail delivery replacing the older, more limited pony express. But he can't convince his pony express employer to partner up in starting a stage-line. Still, Gene's a loyal cuss, and can't bring himself to ignore the express when bad guy rivals try to sabotage his former boss. There are more plot complications and character conflict than usual, probably reflecting a need to break away from old formulas.
Dick Jones makes an energetic express rider, even getting to passion-kiss Elizabeth Taylor look-alike Kathleen Case. Of course, by this time Gene's nearly 50 and looking understandably middle-aged, so the kids carry much of the plot. Two of the highlights-- the bucking bronco scene is very well done, while Gene's little singing duet with Burnette comes across as a delightfully fitting farewell to a memorable movie partnership.Also, I was kind of hoping that Gene, who started out as a telegrapher, would get a last scene working the telegraph. But maybe he didn't know his role here would be his final feature (the TV series ended in 1955). Anyway, this is not only an entertaining 60 minutes, but also an interesting and informative one as well. A quality final note for a much beloved performer and cowboy icon.
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