KING OF THE COWBOYS (director: Joseph Kane; screenwriters: story by Hal Long/Oliver Cooper/J. Benton Cheney; cinematographer: Reggie Lanning; editor: Harry Keller; music: Mort Glickman; cast: Roy Rogers (Roy), Smiley Burnette (Frog Millhouse), Bob Nolan (Bob), Sons of the Pioneer (Themselves), Peggy Moran (Judy Mason), Gerald Mohr (Maurice – the Mental Marvel), Dorothea Kent (Ruby Smith), Lloyd Corrigan (William Kraley – Governor’s Secretary), James Bush (Dave Mason), Russell Hicks (Texas Governor Shuville), Irving Bacon (Alf Cluckus – the Jailer), Norman Willis (Henchman Buxton); Runtime: 67; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Grey; Republic Pictures; 1943)

It follows to a tee the successful Rogers formula of song, some action and mild romance.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Roy gets a bigger budget, as he just appeared on the cover of Life magazine as ‘King of the Cowboys.’ Republic heavily promotes the singing cowboy with main rival Gene Autry away from the industry, as he’s involved in the war effort. Director Joseph Kane (“Smoke in the Wind”/”Laramie”/”Dakota”) efficiently directs this b&w action B western and goes full steam ahead on pushing Roy as a patriot. The wartime pic is based on a story by Hal Long and Oliver Cooper, and the script is by J. Benton Cheney.

Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.

Rodeo star Rogers is asked by the Texas governor (Russell Hicks) to work as a secret agent tracking Nazi saboteurs responsible for a number of supply warehouse bombings. Roy and his sidekick Frog (Smiley Burnette) quit the rodeo circuit and infiltrate the Merry Makers touring carnival act and smoke out that the fake mind reader, Maurice (Gerald Mohr), is involved in the sabotage. Maurice is running things for the unknown big boss. When Maurice catches Roy stealing his book of codes, whereby the boss relays the bombing sites, he thereby kills the tent show owner (James Bush) who wants to quit the gang and frames Roy. But Roy, with the help of the dead tent owner’s sister Judy (Peggy Moran), his love interest, out-tricks the boss, the governor’s secretary (Lloyd Corrigan), and gets to a supply train before the gang can dynamite it.

It follows to a tee the successful Rogers formula of song, some action, and mild romance.

There are seven songs performed by Rogers, Burnette, and the Sons of the Pioneers, including “Ride, Ranger, Ride,” “A Gay Ranchero,” “Roll Along Prairie Moon,” “Biscuit Blues,” “They Cut Down the Old Pine Tree,” “Red River Valley,” and Johnny Mercer’s “I’m an Old Cowhand.”