Pecos Bill (1948)
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8/10 Bethany Cox
Roy Rogers and the Sons Of The Pioneers came over from Republic Pictures to do this feature. Disney must have forked over some big bucks to Herbert J. Yates for their services. They are in a scene with his two child stars from So Dear To My Heart, Luana Patten and Bobby Driscoll with them dressed up like future Mouseketeers on talent roundup day.
Roy tells the tale and sings with the help of The Sons Of The Pioneers the story of legendary cowboy Pecos Bill, his horse Widowmaker, and the girl of his dreams, Sluefoot Sue. Let's just say this was a triangular situation with Pecos Bill at the apex and only one of the other two could put a claim on him.
Roy and the Pioneers sing Blue Shadows On The Trail, a favorite cowboy ballad of mine since I got a Bing Crosby record of it. I'm partial to Bing, but Roy and the Pioneers do a grand job.
It's a great song and a fine short subject from The Magic Kingdom.
"Pecos Bill" is a cartoon that is narrated and sung by Roy Rogers and his regular backup group, The Sons of the Pioneers. It's a country western style cartoon about Pecos Bill--a kid abandoned (accidentally) in the desert and is raised by wolves--much like Mowgli from "The Jungle Book". Once he grows up, Bill has a lot of adventures--all set to country western music and narrated in a pretty funny manner. What I particularly liked was the animation--not the greatest Disney ever did, but better than anything else in "Melody Time"--even a bit better than "Little Toot". Enjoyable throughout, the only reservation I have is for younger audiences--I just can't see little kids enjoying this.
The only thing I really liked in this was the live-action sequences, with actors Roy Rogers, Bob Nolan, Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten. The actors don't portray any characters, they portray themselves (which is fun). Bob Nolan, besides himself, is also cast as The Sons of the Pioneers. And I really like that horse, it's beautiful. These live-action sequences, while not the best Disney has ever made, are nevertheless interesting, charming and fun.
If this was an entirely live-action short and these actors portrayed the animated characters (not by voicing them but as live-action) I'm sure it would have been a lot better. Unfortunately the live-action bits are short, way too short.
By giving this a 5 rating I am being generous. The 5 is because of the live-action sequences. If I only considered the live-action sequences, I'd rate it much higher than 5. But the animated parts clearly deserve a far lower rating than 5.