|Index||9 reviews in total|
This amazing short, in glorious Technicolor, brings together disparate elements one would never expect to see combined, except perhaps in a surrealist play - a vaguely European royal court presided over by a chipper, 1930s American-style kid who orders a command performance of a wild west show (which just happens to be passing through the area). Add a couple of songs and some rousing American patriotism, and you have a startlingly audacious slice of kitsch. The disparate elements aren't smoothly meshed; they're strung together with a daring, in-your-face boldness. Hats off to Warner Brothers for this crazy experiment!
John Payne's first feature film western was El Paso in 1949, but
earlier on when he was under contract to Warner Brothers he did this
Vitagraph Short about a Wild West Show that comes to a Ruritanian type
kingdom in the Balkans. Young king Scotty Beckett is real enthusiastic
about it, especially after Payne saves his life after he falls over
from the royal balcony.
But Payne has to keep doing it because some of the king's adult counselors are planning a coup d'etat. Payne and sidekick Cliff Edwards foil the plans of plotters Stuart Holmes and Boyd Irwin.
The film is a cut down version of the Ken Maynard feature film Royal Rider and between all that life saving, several musical numbers get thrown into the bargain.
I'm betting that Jack Warner was trying out young contract player Payne to see if he might make a passable singing cowboy. In any event within two years Payne was doing A musicals at 20th Century Fox with Alice Faye, Betty Grable, and Sonja Henie.
And when he got around to westerns again, he sung not a note.
A Warner Brothers Short Subject.
An American cowboy tries to foil the abduction of the young king of Avania during THE ROYAL RODEO he's presenting at the castle.
This pleasant Technicolor diversion, a sort of Grustark Goes West, mixes the elements of court intrigue and rodeo performers with a couple of songs and a little action. John Payne plays the cowboy hero, Cliff Edwards (sans ukulele) is his sidekick, and Scotty Becket is the boy monarch.
Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
Left-over sets from THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD and THE PRIVATE LIVES
OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX are used extensively for this lavish Technicolor
short in sumptuous color. Obviously, Warner Bros. had spent so much on
all the costumes and sets for those films that they put them to use in
this short subject featuring JOHN PAYNE in one of his earliest singing
roles. (He later joined Alice Faye at Fox in a series of musicals,
years before A MIRACLE ON 34th STREET).
SCOTTY BECKETT, who played the son of many a Warner star during his childhood, plays the King of a small European country who is dazzled by American cowboys and is delighted when the rodeo comes to the village with JOHN PAYNE, LUCILLE FAIRBANKS and CLIFF EDWARDS in the spotlight.
Beckett is abducted by a Regent who wants to become the king but saved, of course, by his cowboy hero Payne. Payne and the cast do a few musical numbers, including a jaunty ditty called "In the Good Old American Way", and with the young king returned to the throne there's a happy ending for everyone.
Produced on what looks like a major budget, the color is excellent and the familiar sets look better than ever.
Isn't this a remake of MY PAL,THE KING (Universal,'32)which starred Tom Mix and Mickey Rooney? Great stuff! I get tired of those who are either too cynical or too young to "get" the point of such a film. Way back when, we recognized the nature of such movies, but we enjoyed them for what they were---and we did appreciate patriotism! I believe that we were thankful, and trusting, and mature enough to enjoy things as they were; we DID know the difference between sheer entertainment and WAR AND PEACE. Life was getting very real in 1939 with clouds of war expansion gathering across both oceans. The American public had withstood an economic depression which would probably psychologically devastate a majority of Americans today. So---we were willing to suspend belief or critical judgment when a melodrama came along. Would we were so innocent, and kind, and fun-loving today!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wow, this must be the most elaborate one-reeler I've yet seen! Singing, dancing, a full and excellent orchestral score, cowboys, Injuns, a chase scene, operetta-style 19th Century kingdom ... hmm, what did I leave out? Oh, kidnapping, rescue, swing music, Cliff Edwards waving the flag & singing about the Good Ol' American Way ... hahaha . Beautiful color, virtually every costume in Warner Bros closet... now there are Injuns doing a square dance with the King of Whositland... while Cliff "scats" .... I didn't really write a "spoiler", but just know that the whole 15 minutes is a surprise. Great stuff, this is, but almost any movie at the matinée might seem a letdown, after this bright, cheerful, breathlessly silly spectacle. Look for it on Turner, although Turner never lists shorts in its schedule.
This film has one of the most bizarre endings of any film I've ever seen. After five people are sentenced to death for trying to overthrow a European monarch, the condemned, some cowboys and and some Indians start singing and dancing together, in a palace throne room, to an annoyingly catchy song called "That's the American Way." The king, takes off his crown and robes to reveal a cowboy outfit. This is a scene you truly have to see to believe!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Quite the most extraordinary short I've ever seen. Almost like some
drug induced hallucination. Made in 1939 when US audiences still
believed that European countries were like a Ruritanian comic opera
with all the courtiers in primary coloured uniforms with lots of gold
braid and the ladies wore frilly peasant styles. Bring in a travelling
rodeo and it's singing hero, add the obligatory plot by the dastardly
would-be regent, throw in a royal carriage being chased by a posse of
cowboys and finish with a rousing song espousing the benefits of
Freedom and Democracy and The American Way.
Totally incoherent and delightfully silly, I suspect a bong and a couple of six packs would make this even more enjoyable.
Royal Rodeo, The (1939)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Silly and rather predictable Western/Musical from Warner has a young King (Scotty Beckett) looking up to cowboy star Bill Stevens (John Payne). The King eventually gets to meet his hero when the traveling rodeo comes to town and sure enough, the King is going to need to be saved from a bad assistant. This film has a few nice things going for it but not the items you might expect. Payne, before becoming a star, manages to be pretty good here even if his line reading is a tad bit hollow. The rodeo stuff is rather bland as we've seen the stunts done various times before and there's really nothing new added to them here. Where the film does succeed is with the music, which includes tracks such as 'Yankee Doodle', 'Oh! Susanna', 'The Good Old American Way' and a couple others. Another plus is the Technicolor, which really looks nice even if the print on Turner Classic Movies is somewhat faded in certain scenes.
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