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GOLDEN STALLION, THE(director: William Witney; screenwriter: Sloan Nibley; cinematographer: Jack Marta; editor: Tony Martinelli ; music: Nathan Scott; cast: Roy Rogers (Roy Rogers), Dale Evans (Stormy Billings), Estelita Rodriguez (Pepe Valdez), Pat Brady (Sparrow Biffle), Douglas Evans (Jeff Middleton, Owner of Oro City Hotel), Frank Fenton (Sheriff in Oro City), Dale Van Sickel (Ed Hart), Greg McClure (Ben, Hart’s henchman), Clarence Straight (Bartender Spud), Riders of the Purple Sage (Musicians); Runtime: 67; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edward J. White; Republic Pictures Home Video; 1949)
“Stars Roy Rogers’s horse Trigger in this improbable diamond smuggling western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The film stars Roy Rogers’s horse Trigger in this improbable diamond smuggling western. Veteran B- western director William Witney (“Twilight in the Sierras”/”On the Old Spanish Trail”/”Trigger, Jr.”) helms it and it’s written bySloan Nibley.

There’s a lucrative diamond smuggling operation across the Mexican border run on the American side of the border by the oily Jeff Middleton (Douglas Evans), the seemingly respectable owner of the Oro City Hotel. The gems, if you can believe it, are hidden in a specially designed horse-shoe worn by a tame Palomino mare that acts as the leader of wild horses that freely roam back and forth across the border.

Horse trainer Roy Rogers and his crew (Riders of the Purple Sage, cowboy/musicians) are hired by new Circle B ranch owner Stormy Billings (Dale Evans) to retrieve the wild horses and sell them for a great profit to horse dealers. Rogers captures the wild herd and turns Trigger loose in the herd to calm them down, when Middleton henchman Ed Hart (Dale Van Sickel) causes a stampede and Trigger runs away with the herd. Later that night Trigger returns to Rogers and the lead mare also returns, evidently she fell in love with Trigger (go figure horses!). Hart tries to steal the mare in the Circle B corral, but Trigger stomps him to death. Rogers takes the blame rather than have Trigger put down as a vicious animal, and loses Trigger when he can’t pay a fine. One of Middleton’s henchmen (Greg McClure) in an auction outbids Rogers’ Circle B crew and for $5,000 gets Trigger and trains him to lead the pack of wild horses. Furthermore Rogers is sentenced for manslaughter and spends three years in jail before released on parole. During that time Rogers learns that the belle mare gave birth to a beautiful golden stallion, which Trigger sired. Trigger, now running as the leader of the wild herd, returns to the Circle B to drop off the colt, who is named by Stormy as Trigger, Jr..

It concludes with Rogers cooking up a plan with the sheriff (Frank Fenton) to trick Middleton and bring him out in the open.

The most positive things I can say are that spending more time with this hokey equine romance, as seen through human eyes, is still better than the usual musically dominated Rogers’ films made prior to when Witney and Nibley came on board for the series and that the lush Trucolor makes for a pleasant watch. Rogers’ huge fan base might appreciate the singing of the Riders of the Purple Sage and the lame hick comedy relief antics provided by Rogers’ sidekick Sparrow Biffle (Pat Brady) and Dale’s South American ranch friend Pepe Valdez (Estelita Rodriguez), but I found it as unpleasant as a bumpy ride on horseback. It was just a notch below Rogers’ best film ever “My Pal Trigger,” which makes it one of the few Rogers films I found watchable.REVIEWED ON 1/21/2007 GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”