Gene Autry, Barbara Britton, Robert Shayne, and Champion in Loaded Pistols (1948)


(director: John English; screenwriters: from a story by Dwight Cummins & Dorothy Yost/ Dwight Cummins/Dorothy Yost; cinematographer: William Bradford; editor: Aaron Stell; cast: Gene Autry (Gene Autry), Barbara Britton (Mary Evans), Chill Wills (Sheriff Cramer), Jack Holt (Dave Randall), Russell Arms (Larry Evans), Robert Shayne (Don Mason), Vince Barnett (Sam Gardner, Notary Public), Leon Weaver (Jake Harper), Clem Bevans (Jim Hedge, prospector), Stanley Blystone (Ed Norton); Runtime: 77; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Armand Schaefer; Columbia Pictures; 1948)
“A satisfactory B Western, with singing cowboy Gene Autry in fine voice.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Helmed by busy television series director of the 1950s John English (“Don’t Fence Me In”/”The Strawberry Roan”/”The Phantom Speaks”) and written by Dwight Cummins & Dorothy Yost from their story. It’s a satisfactory B Western, with singing cowboy Gene Autry in fine voice, the fast-paced story is filled with plenty of fistfights and horse chases, and the heroine, Barbara Britton, is a spirited lassie.

In the dusty western town of Nortonville prominent citizen Ed Norton gets killed during a crap game when the lights are turned out. Larry Evans (Russell Arms), a losing player in the crap game, gets blamed for the murder because his gun was used and goes on the lam with his sister Mary (Barbara Britton) as the sheriff, Cramer (Chill Wills), and his posse, are in pursuit. Gene Autry believes the young hothead was framed, and pursues the real killer with the help of the siblings after a tough time trying to convince the obnoxious wannabe gunslinger that he’s on his side. Gene hides Larry in prospector Jim Hedges’ remote mountain cabin. It leads to Gene finding out the motive of the killing is to get the sibling’s ranch. Gene discovers that there’s valuable deposits of iron ore on the inherited family ranch, which they were unaware of, and that the notary public (Vince Barnett), and two players in the crap game–Dave Randall (Jack Holt) and Don Mason (Robert Shayne)–all knew about that secret and unsuccessfully tried to buy the ranch from the youngsters.

With the help of the Cass County Boys as backups, Gene sings the following tunes: “Pretty Mary”, “Jimmy Crack Corn”, “When the Bloom is on the Sage”, “A Boy from Texas, A Girl from Tennessee” and the title tune. The comic relief chore is ably handled by Chill Wills.