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BOOTS AND SADDLES (director: Joseph Kane; screenwriter: Jack Natteford/from a story by Jack Natteford; cinematographer: William Nobles; editor: Lester Orlebeck; music: Smiley Burnette; cast: Gene Autry (Gene Autry), Smiley Burnette (Frog Millhouse), Judith Allen (Bernice Allen), Ra Hould (Spud aka Edward, Earl of Grandby), Guy Usher (Col. Allen), Gordon Elliott (Jim Neale), John Ward (Henry ‘Windy’ Wyndham), Bud Osborne (Henchman Larkins); Runtime: 57; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sol C. Siegel; Republic; 1937)
“… amiable B Western with singing cowboy Gene Autry and his sidekick Smiley Burnette.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Joseph Kane (“Oh, Susanna!”/”Melody Trail”) directs this amiable B Western with singing cowboy Gene Autry and his sidekick Smiley Burnette. It’s taken from a story by Jack Natteford and scripted by him. Gene croons “Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddles,” among many other songs.

Edward, the young Earl of Granville (Ra Hould), inherits his father’s ranch out in America’s Old West and travels there with his stuffy solicitor Henry Wyndham (John Ward) from England. Gene Autry is the foreman and Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnett) is his partner, who both promised his late father to make him a real cowboy. The arrogant youngster is advised by the solicitor to sell the ranch because it’s in big debt.

Off to a bumpy start, the air clears between the Earl and Gene when Gene rescues the kid from a runaway horse and Edward apologizes for his rudeness. Gene and Frog start calling the kid Spud, just like they did his old man.

Wealthy neighboring rancher Jim Neale (Gordon Elliott), whom Spud owed money, makes an offer to buy the ranch. But Gene advises selling the ranch horses to the army to get it out of the red. Gene and Frog take the horses to Fort Wayne to sell it to Colonel Allen (Guy Usher), but on the way the horses accidentally kick up dust in a buggy whose passengers are Neale, Allen and his daughter Bernice (Judith Allen). The irate Bernice plans to get even with Gene when he shows up at the house to get the army contract and Bernice poses as the maid. She tells Gene that he should shout when talking to the colonel because he’s hard of hearing. This, of course, antagonizes the colonel when they meet the next day at the horse auction.

When Neale’s bid is the same as Gene’s the colonel proposes they each race twelve horses the next morning and that the winner will receive the contract. The night before the race Neale’s henchmen try to kidnap Autry, have a process server serve the Earl with a summons claiming all the ranch property and then they burn down the barn where Gene’s horses are kept. None of these dirty schemes work.

The day of the race, Gene goes on with the race even though he has only 5 horses left and ends up winning. It leads to Joe Larkins (Bud Osborne), a Neale henchman, confessing he was the arsonist and implicating his boss, Gene’s ranch getting the army contract and saving the ranch, and Bernice getting together with Gene after their misunderstanding.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”