Roy Rogers and Trigger in My Pal Trigger (1946)




(director: Frank McDonald; screenwriters: from a story by Paul Gangelin/Jack Townley/John K. Butler; cinematographer: William Bradford; editor: Harry Keller; music: R. Dale Butts; cast: Roy Rogers (Roy Rogers), Dale Evans (Susan Kendrick), George ‘Gabby’ Hayes (Gabby Kendrick), Jack Holt (Brett Scoville), LeRoy Mason (Carson), Roy Barcroft (Hunter), Al Bridge (Wallace), Bob Nolan (Bob Nolan); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Armand Schaefer; Republic; 1946)

“A little better than most of Rogers’s Westerns.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

“My Pal Trigger” was amiable singing cowboy Roy Rogers’ favorite film. It’s a little better than most of Rogers’s Westerns (which is probably not saying much!). It’s similar to Gene Autry’s The Strawberry Roan (1948), who stole the film’s theme when he switched from Republic to Columbia. Frank McDonald is the director; it’s scripted by Jack Townley and John K. Butler from a Paul Gangelin story. It tells how Rogers first got to possess Trigger, his famous trademark horse.

Horse trader Roy Rogers arrives at the fancy Golden Horse Ranch owned by the ornery oldster Gabby Kendrick (George ‘Gabby’ Hayes). Roy meets again after a two-year absence Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers who are ranch hands. He also meets Gabby’s beautiful horsewoman daughter Susan (Dale Evans), who’s riding the prized stallion palomino Golden Sovereign. Roy asks Gabby to sire his stallion to his mare to produce a colt, and he’ll give him his mare as a present. Gabby rudely turns him down and asks him to leave the premises. That night Sovereign is attempted to be rustled by rival rancher Scoville (Jack Holt) and his men but escapes and runs off to breed with Roy’s mare. In the morning Scoville is asked by Gabby to find his stallion and when he does he shoots Sovereign dead. Roy encamped nearby goes over to the dead horse and is soon discovered by the Kendricks and blamed for the killing. Roy is arrested and the judge holds him on a $1,000 bail, which he receives when crooked lawyer Wallace (Al Bridge) puts up the bail money but makes Roy sign away ownership to his horse. The horse comes into possession of Scoville, whom the lawyer was working for. Roy has someone mysteriously pay his fine and he is released from any more court business. Scoville tells Roy that his mare gave birth to a colt named Trigger as a result of meeting Sovereign that night. Roy agrees to be his former horse’s trainer and Scoville suckers Gabby into wagering his ranch in a race between Scoville’s horse and his Golden Empress. If Scoville’s horse can beat Kendrick’s best horse then he’ll own not only Gabby’s ranch but his prize horse. If Gabby wins, Scoville will forget about the mortgage and give Gabby ownership of Trigger and the mare. Roy has a lot of thinking to do, as he’s still mighty sore at the hard-headed Gabby. But the mellow Susan and Bob Nolan prevail on him to dump the race and get proof that the horse killer was Scoville. It all works out well; Gabby in order to make up for mistakenly accusing Roy, presents him with Trigger as a gift.

The film has a certain naive charm that makes it easy to watch.