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DON’T FENCE ME IN (director: Jon English; screenwriters: Dorrell McGowan/Stuart E. McGowan/John K. Butler; cinematographer: William Bradford; editor: Charles Craft; music: Bob Nolan; cast: Roy Rogers (Roy Rogers), George ‘Gabby’ Hayes (Gabby Whittaker, aka Wildcat Kelly), Dale Evans (Reporter Toni Ames), Robert Livingston (Jack Chandler), Moroni Olsen (Henry Bennett, aka Harry Benson), Marc Lawrence (Clifford Anson), Tom London (Sheriff Ben Duncan), Paul Harvey (Governor Thomas), Sons of the Pioneers (Themselves), Bob Nolan (Himself), Douglas Fowley (Jack Gordon); Runtime: 54; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Donald H. Brown; Republic; 1945)
“It’s much better than the usual Roy Rogers Western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The title is derived from Cole Porter’s hit song “Don’t Fence Me In,” and is sung by singing cowboy Roy Rogers (the other songs include “Along the Navajo Trail,” “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” “The Last Roundup,” “Choo-Choo Polka,” “My Little Buckaroo” and “A Kiss Goodnight.” Our contemporary cowboy hero owns the R-Bar-R Dude Ranch out West where he has employed for a long time Gabby Whittaker (George ‘Gabby’ Hayes), whose secret (known only by Roy) is that he’s the famous outlaw Wildcat Kelly who was buried at Boot Hill some thirty years ago. Toni Ames (Dale Evans) is an aggressive big city magazine photojournalist from back east, whose editor sends her West to Twin Wells to follow-up a lead that Wildcat is still alive.

Toni tricks Gabby into posing for her and then runs a feature story in the sensationalist Spread magazine that she located Wildcat. This gets the concern of Governor Thomas, who frets that the state was cheated out of the $50,000 reward for the capture of Wildcat and that there’s a dead body in place of Wildcat’s–meaning Wildcat could be a murderer. The other reaction the story brings on, is from Cliff Anson. He shoots Gabby at the dude ranch, and is traced to Henry Bennett’s Westward Ho nightclub. Cliff works for the crooked nightclub owner, who wants Wildcat dead because he collected the reward and cheated the government, and buried instead a victim of his crime.

Roy and Toni team up to get the baddie, but in the end Wildcat redeems himself by overtaking the villain when Roy’s efforts fail. Bennett is the alias for Benson, the one who claimed the phony reward money and more recently bumped off Cliff to stop him from talking.

It’s briskly directed by Jon English and written by a team of writers. It’s much better than the usual Roy Rogers Western.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”