COW TOWN (director: John English; screenwriter: Gerald Geraghty; cinematographer: William Bradford; editor: Henry Batista; cast: Gene Autry (Himself), Gail Davis (Ginger Kirby), Harry Shannon (Sandy Reeves), Jock Mahoney (Tod Jeffreys), Harry Harvey (Sheriff), Clark ‘Buddy’ Burroughs (Duke Kirby), Steve Darrell (Hilliard/David Holister), Ted Mapes (Henchman Ed), Holly Bane (Henchman Phillips), House Peters Jr. (Henchman Saunders), Chuck Roberson (Henchman Mike), Ralph Sanford (Storekeeper Dalrymple); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Armand Schaefer; Columbia Pictures; 2010)
“Uninteresting but typical Gene Autry musical Western.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Uninteresting but typical Gene Autry musical Western, except for no sidekick. It’s mechanically directed byJohn English (“The Strawberry Roan”/”Loaded Pistols”/”Riders of the Whistling Pines“)to fit the usual Autry crowd pleasing formulaand is plainly written byGerald Geraghty. Gene’s songs include: “Down in the Valley,” “Buffalo Gals, Powder Your Face with Sunshine” and “Oh, Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie.”
It’s filmed like a semi-documentary, extolling the virtues of barbed wire on the range to prevent rustling and strays. It’s set in modern times, in a rural ranching community in the Old West called Cow Town.
Because of rustling, Gene Autry uses barbed wire on his ranch, even though the other ranchers are skeptical their cattle will be injured. But Gene demonstrates the cattle will automatically veer from the barbed wire. Livery stable owner Sandy Reeves (Harry Shannon) has plans to buy up the local ranches after the devaluation of their properties by illegal means and raise sheep there instead. Sandy therefore has his hired thugs (Jock O’Mahoney, Holly Bane, House Peters Jr., Chuck Roberson andTed Mapes) cause a range war by marking up the cattle in the area with barbed wire marks and getting the cowpunchers all riled up by telling them they’ll lose their jobs because of the barbed wire. The range war divides the ranchers. Gene will later learn that Sandy’s ex-livery stable partner Hilliard (Steve Darrell) is the escapee jailbird embezzler David Holister and the two are partners in this scheme to run the honest ranchers off. Gene will then take care of the baddies like he always does, as the good guys once again defeat the bad guys. No moral complications allowed here.
Ralph Sanford plays the opportunistic general store owner Martin Dalrymple, who vacillates if it’s better making a profit on the barbed wire or making friends with the opponents.He manages to side with those ahead in public opinion, at the time, as he switches sides a few times. Ginger Kirby (Gail Davis) plays Gene’s cute new neighbor rancher, who lives with her wide-eyed teenager brother Duke (Clark ‘Buddy’ Burroughs). Gene offers Duke his saddle and paternal love; Ginger his hand to lift her up from a mudhole and platonic love; only Gene’s horse Champion gets his full love.
REVIEWED ON 8/7/2010 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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