(director: Joseph Kane; screenwriter: Malcolm Stuart Boylin; cinematographer: Jack Marta; editor: William P. Thompson; cast: Roy Rogers (Himself), Gabby Hayes (Gabby Whittaker), Sally Payne (Sally Whittaker), Trevor Bardette (Allison), Gale Storm (Kay Sutherland), Robert Homans(Sheriff Sutherland), Hal Taliaferro(Murdock), The Sons of the Pioneers (Themselves); Runtime: 62; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joseph Kane; Republic; 1941)

A singing Western that’s as smooth as sitting on a wooden horse.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A singing Western that’s as smooth as sitting on a wooden horse. Director Joseph Kane (“Flame of the Barbary Coast”/”Hoodlum Empire”/”Dakota”) keeps it Roy Rogers friendly.WriterMalcolm Stuart Boylin keeps it just as much music friendly as action friendly.

Roy Rogers returns to his hometown ranch in Red River Valley from El Paso, with his singing group called The Sons of the Pioneers, and the town celebrates their return with a party. But outlaws break into the deserted town’s safe and steal the $182,000 the community raised to build a dam, with the government kicking in the other half. It’s no secret that construction foreman Murdock stole the loot for gambling casino owner Allison (Trevor Bardette). He’s the smarmy operator trying to get control of the water rights so he can control the valley.

Gabby (Gabby Hayes) is the barber/newspaper publisher who sides with Roy, as the singer puts down his guitar for a minute to scheme at a way to prove Allison is guilty. Gabby’s spunky daughter Sally (Sally Payne) is the town telephone switchboard operator, who also helps the good guys. Sheriff Sutherland (Robert Homans) is the lunkhead Roy has to kidnap because he falls for the tricky plan Allison has suckered him into and before he can sign away the town’s water control he’s snatched by Roy. His pretty daughter Kay (Gale Storm) is also taken to the mountain hiding place, as she remains loyal to pop despite loving Roy.

The B Western follows the Rogers formula, and the result is a simplistic pic that’s filled with a doable mixture of music and action. It’s one of Rogers’ more entertaining ones, one that nowadays looks more like a TV show than a feature movie.

Songs include the title song, “Love Begins at Sunset on the Trail,” “Lily of the Hillbilly Valley,” “When Payday Rolls Around,” and “Chant of the Wanderer.”

Red River Valley Poster