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GOLD MINE IN THE SKY (director: Joe Kane; screenwriter: story by Betty Burbridge/Betty Burbridge & Jack Natteford; cinematographer: William Nobles; editor: Lester Orlebeck; cast: Gene Autry (Gene Autrey), Carol Hughes (Cody Langham), Robert Homans (Lucky Langham), Smiley Bernette (Frog), Craig Reynolds (Larry Cummings), Cupid Ainsworth (Jane Crocker), Le Roy Mason (Red Kuzak), J. L. Frank’s ‘Golden West Cowboys’ (Singers), Stafford Sisters (The Levinsky Trio); Runtime: 65; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Charles E. Ford; Republic; 1938)
“Goofy contemporary western that mixes Chicago hoods as rustlers riding in sedans with real Wyoming cowboys on horseback chasing them in a dude ranch setting.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Veteran B Western director Joe Kane (“The Old Corral”/”Ride, Ranger, Ride”/”Yodelin’ Kid from Pine Ridge”) does a fine job keeping things moving in this goofy contemporary western that mixes Chicago hoods as rustlers riding in sedans with real Wyoming cowboys on horseback chasing them in a dude ranch setting–which is about as surreal as an Autry western gets. The offbeat story is by Betty Burbridge and she cowrites it with Jack Natteford. It’s one of America’s favorite singing cowboy Gene Autry’s more lively ventures, as he had plenty of rest as he went on a six month strike against the studio before getting his deserved raise for his always big box-office hits. Gene is in fine voice as he croons a bunch of tunes backed up by J. L. Frank’s ‘Golden West Cowboys.’ The songs include “As Long as I Have My Horse,” “Dude Ranch Cowhand,” “Comin’ ‘Round the Bend,” and the title song.

When the owner of the Horseshoe Ranch in Wyoming, Lucky Langham (Robert Homans), unluckily dies in a freak accident during a horse race, his spoiled rebellious daughter Cody (Carol Hughes), a tad on the obnoxious side, who has been living it up back in Chicago with the wrong crowd, comes back to inherit the ranch. But the stipulations in the will are that Lucky’s adopted son and trusted foreman Gene Autry act as her guardian and executor of the estate; it states that she can’t sell the ranch or marry without his permission, or else she loses the ranch–worth $300,000. Cody sends for four-flusher and gold-digger Larry Cummings (Craig Reynolds) from Chicago and demands Gene allow her to marry him. He refuses, calling him out for the criminal rat he is. Angry at Gene, Cody then tries to raise money by turning the working ranch into a dude ranch for city folks. Larry, fed up with not getting his dough from selling the ranch, then sends for Chicago goons and they hatch a plan to rustle the cattle on Cody’s ranch and plug Gene when he tries to stop the rustling. It backfires, and Gene gets Cody to wake up and smell the coffee about her good-for-nothing boyfriend after a faked kidnapping turns real.

The dependable Smiley Burnette co-stars as Gene’s sidekick Frog, who is around for comic relief and to warble a few tunes.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”