Very Little From The Western Genre Larder Is Left Out Of Thi
rsoonsa | Lake Isabella, California | 02/06/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The fifth film in which Roy Rogers is given the leading role, this low-budget Republic Pictures production places Roy and a group of comrades, all freshly mustered from the United States Army in 1899, following service in Cuba with Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War, and still bulging with aggressive energy, as they join en masse the (not yet in existence) United States Border Patrol, assigned to the wild and woolly Arizona territory. Since this is, after all, a Roy Rogers picture, i.e., one that includes musical interludes, the entire contingent of stalwarts breaks into an a cappella rendition of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" as they first appear at a Border Patrol outpost where their station commanding officer assigns his new charges with effecting the apprehension of a mysterious "Arizona Jack" and his gang who are preying upon Territorial businesses and then fleeing across the international border into Mexico. The plot is pleasingly intricate and director/producer Joseph Kane, at the helm for his initial Rogers movie, includes as much as he can of Jack Natteford's screenplay before the dollars run out, with a viewer being treated to a well edited, crisply-paced affair, loaded with gunplay, fisticuffs, skillful horsemanship and stuntwork; there is even an abducted heroine. Scenes of dramatic action are halted twice to allow for musical interludes, first as Roy sings "Ridin' Down the Trail" and, later while behind bars, he serenades the lady he loves (Lynne Roberts playing as Mary Hart) who is confined to an adjacent cell, warbling "Here on the Range With You", accompanying himself by strumming upon a guitar. Raymond Hatton is Rusty Coburn, playing as Roy's sidekick, having succeeded Smiley Burnette for that honour, he himself soon supplanted by Gabby Hayes. There are numerous familiar Western genre players to be seen here, with George Chesebro being a particular standout as Arizona Jack's primary henchman. Kane's able direction provides for effective and vivid narrative pacing. Originally 58 minutes long, the film was competently edited down to 54 minutes for its television showings and video releases."