Predictable But Pleasant
Only-A-Child | 02/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Heart of the Rio Grande" (1942) is probably the most lyrical of Autry's movies and therefore has held up better than his more action oriented films. When ranch owner Skipper Forbes hires Gene as her new foreman, the old foreman Hap Callahan (William Haade) is allowed to stay on as a ranch hand. Hap resents Gene and his plans for turning the place into a dude ranch. There is a lot of friction between them culminating in a fight and Hap's dismissal. He plots revenge.
Early in the film a girls' school arrives at the dude ranch for the summer. The teacher Alice Bennett (Fay McKenzie) serves as both Gene's tame romantic interest and his sidekick Frog's (Smiley Burnett) unrequited love. Their dueling serenade of Alice is the best of a whole bunch of pretty good musical elements in the film.
All the girl students look about high school age which gives the film a lot of charm that would be missing if they had populated the cast with 20 something starlets. The most prominent of the students is Connie Lane (Edith Fellows best known as Polly Pepper in all those Pepper films of the 30's), the spoiled daughter of a rich businessman. At first Connie makes a lot of trouble for everyone but eventually she takes to Gene and works to improve his opinion of her.
Burnette can lay claim to originating the mini-me concept. In "Heart of the Rio Grande" Frog Millhouse is shadowed by a fat little boy, appropriately named Tadpole (Joe Strauch, Jr.). Tadpole dresses just like Frog including the same hat style (front brim turned up). He has a lot of precocious lines and a very bass singing voice. Jean Porter plays another of the students (mysteriously named Pudge) and soon becomes young Tadpole's first crush. The vivacious Porter is drop dead gorgeous, in the image of Vargas redhead Jean Dean.
"Heart of the Rio Grande" is mostly music and comedy, what action there is consists almost entirely of Gene rescuing Connie from an assortment of dangers. This is not a bad thing.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child."
"Gene Autry B-Western Series ... Heart of the Rio Grande (19
J. Lovins | Missouri-USA | 08/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Republic Pictures present "HEART OF THE RIO GRANDE" (11 March 1942) (69 mins/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) --- relive those thrilling days when the "First Singing Cowboy" Gene Autry took us down the dusty trails with hard riding and straight shooting hitting the bull's eye with excitement every time --- the Gene Autry series of B-Westerns were a staple of Saturday matinees in the 1930s and 1940s --- The Following Segments are from the "Melody Ranch Theater", which originally aired on the Nashville Network in 1987 --- Hosted by Gene and longtime sidekick Pat Buttram the program showcased many of Gene's classic motion pictures and featured personal anecdotes about how the films were made --- Information on costars and significant happenings in Gene's personal life and career. --- don't miss any of the Singing Cowboy's features loaded with action and songs that will leave you wanting more of Gene Autry's B-Western Adventures --- The sale of this DVD will further the educational and cultural mission of the renowned "Autry National Center in Los Angeles".
Under William Morgan (Director), Harry Grey (Producer), Lillie Hayward (Screenwriter), Winston Miller (Screenwriter), Newlin B. Wildes (Short Story Author), Harry Neumann (Cinematographer), Raoul Kraushaar (Musical Direction/Supervision), Les Orlebeck (Editor) - - - - - - Our story line and plot, mostly music and comedy, what action there is consists almost entirely of Gene rescuing Edith Fellows from an assortment of dangers --- Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette) is shadowed by a fat little boy, appropriately named Tadpole (Joe Strauch, Jr.) --- Tadpole dresses just like Frog including the same hat style (front brim turned up). He has a lot of precocious lines and a very bass singing voice --- Early in the film a girls' school arrives at the dude ranch for the summer --- The teacher Alice Bennett (Fay McKenzie) serves as both Gene's tame romantic interest and his sidekick Frog's (Smiley Burnett) unrequited love --- Their dueling serenade of Alice is the best of a whole bunch of pretty good musical elements in the film ----- some wonderful tunes, "LET ME RIDE DOWN IN ROCKY CANYON" (Gene Autry and Extras), "DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS" (Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Extras and Joe Stauch, Jr.), "DUSK ON THE PAINTED DESERT" (Gene Autry), "OH WOE IS ME" (Smiley Burnette),"RUMBLE SEAT FOR TWO" (Gene Autry and The Jimmy Wakely Trio), "RANCHO PILLOW" (Gene Autry), "RAINBOW IN THE NIGHT" (Edith Fellows), "CIMARRON" (The Jimmy Wakely Trio), "I'LL WAIT FOR YOU" (Gene Autry and Fay McKenzie), "DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS" (Gene Autry and Cast - - - - - - some Autry fun facts, following completion of filming "Heart of the Rio Grande", Gene appeared with his own rodeo at the Coliseum in Houston, Texas, from February 6th through the 15th in 1942.
the cast includes
Gene Autry ... Gene Autry
Champion ... Champion, Gene's Horse
Smiley Burnette ... Frog Millhouse
Fay McKenzie ... Alice Bennett
Edith Fellows ... Connie Lane
Pierre Watkin ... Randolph Lane (as Pierre Watkins)
Joe Strauch Jr. ... Tadpole
William Haade ... Hap Callahan
Sarah Padden ... 'Skipper' Forbes
Jean Porter ... Pudge
Jimmy Wakely Trio ... Singers, ranch hands
Johnny Bond ... Singer, (Member, Jimmy Wakely Trio) (uncredited)
Budd Buster ... Ranch Car Driver (uncredited)
Edmund Cobb ... Bartender
Dick Reinhart ... Singer, (Member, Jimmy Wakely Trio)
Jimmy Wakely ... Singer, Jimmy Wakely Trio
1. Gene Autry
Date of Birth: 29 September 1907 - Near Tioga, Texas
Date of Death: 2 October 1998 - Studio City, Los Angeles, California
Special footnote, Orvon Gene Autry was an American performer who gained fame as The Singing Cowboy on the radio, in movies and on television --- Discovered by film producer Nat Levine in 1934, he and Burnette made their film debut for Mascot Pictures Corp. "In Old Santa Fe" as part of a singing cowboy quartet; he was then given the starring role by Levine in 1935 in the 12-part serial "The Phantom Empire" --- Shortly thereafter, Mascot was absorbed by the formation of Republic Pictures Corp. and Autry went along to make a further 44 films up to 1940, all B westerns in which he played under his own name, rode his horse Champion, had Burnette as his regular sidekick and had many opportunities to sing in each film --- Autry became the top Western star at the box-office by 1937, reaching his national peak of popularity from 1940 to 1942. His Gene Autry Flying "A" Ranch Rodeo show debuted in 1940 --- Gene Autry is the only celebrity to have five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one in each of the five categories maintained by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce --- Radio, Films, Recordings, Television and Live Theater.
2. Smiley Burnette (aka: Lester Alvin Burnette)
Date of Birth: 18 March 1911 - Summum, Illinois
Date of Death: 16 February 1967 - Encino, California
Second special footnote, Lester Alvin (Smiley) Burnette an American singer-songwriter who could play as many as 100 different musical instruments, was a successful comedy actor in Western films over three decades --- The popularity of Burnette's Frog Millhouse character, with his trademark floppy black hat, was such that when Autry left for World War II service he did sidekicks duties with Eddie Dew, Sunset Carson and Bob Livingston, plus nine other films with Roy Rogers. After leaving Republic Pictures in 1944, Burnette became the sidekick to Charles Starrett at Columbia Pictures in the long Durango Kid series. Starrett starred in the series from 1944 until 1952, and that pairing resulted in more than 50 films. After the Starrett series was over, Burnette joined Autry for his final six films, all released by Columbia Pictures in 1953.
1. Reminiscing with Gene Autry and Pat Buttram at the "Melody Ranch Theater"
2. "Don't Touch That Dial", Gene Autry is on the air - excerpts from the Original "Melody Ranch Radio Show"
3. Production and Publicity Stills
5. Poster and lobby Card Art
6. Trivia and Movie Facts
7. Original Press Kit Material
Check out a new book from Empire Publishing - "GENE AUTRY WESTERNS" (Hardcover) - by author Boyd Magers, like no other book on Gene Autry --- all of Gene's Mascot, Republic and Columbia westerns included, as well as his half-hour TV Episodes --- each segment contains the release date on each film ... major production credits ... complete cast (including character played) ... all songs included, songwriter and who performed them in the film ... running time of each film ... dates of the filming ... bios on the cast and major players (Smiley, Pat Buttram, Cass County Boys, Herbert J. Yates, directors, leading ladies, songwriters and various heavies, etc.) ... locations that were used ... budgets and negative cost ... stunt people involved ... analysis and synopsis on each film ... notes and comments (including film and cast background info, salaries paid, working titles, etc) ... comments from Gene and many other cast members on each film ... theater exhibitors comments at the time of the films release ...this tribute was written from the heart and it shows.
Hats off and thanks to Les Adams (collector/guideslines for character identification), Chuck Anderson (Webmaster: The Old Corral/B-Westerns.Com), Boyd Magers (Western Clippings), Bobby J. Copeland (author of "Trail Talk"), Rhonda Lemons (Empire Publishing Inc), Bob Nareau (author of "The Real Bob Steele") and Trevor Scott (Down Under DVD Com) as they have rekindled my interest once again for Film Noir, B-Westerns and Serials --- looking forward to more high quality releases from the vintage serial era of the '20s, '30s & '40s and B-Westerns ... order your copy now from Amazon where there are plenty of copies available on DVD --- stay tuned once again for top notch action mixed with deadly adventure --- if you enjoyed this title, why not check out Image Entertainment where they are experts in releasing B-Westerns --- all my heroes have been cowboys!
Total Time: 69 min on DVD ~ Image Video #4001 ~ (11/11/2003)"