(director: Norman Taurog; screenwriters: Sidney Salkow/John C. Moffitt/Walter DeLeon/Francis Martin/story by Mervin J. Houser; cinematographer: Karl Struss; editor: Ellsworth Hoagland; music: Boris Morros; cast: Bing Crosby (Jeff Larrabee), Martha Raye (Emma Mazda), Frances Farmer (Doris Holloway), Samuel S. Hinds (Bob Holloway),Bob Burns (Buck), Lucille Webster Gleason (Penelope “Penny” Ryland), Charles Williams (Gopher, Raye’s brother), Billy Bletcher(Shorty); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ben Glazer; Paramounr; 1936-B/W)

A dull and lightweight musical romantic-comedy Western.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A dull and lightweight musical romantic-comedy Western. The film was shot on location at the Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, California.

Star Bing Crosby crooned the Johnny Mercer hit I’m an Old Cowhand from the Rio Grande. He also croonsRoundup Lullaby, Empty Saddles, Drink it Down, and I Can’t Escape from You. The problem with the pic wasn’t the music, but the weak screenplay by Sidney Salkow, John C. Moffitt, Walter DeLeon, and Francis Martin. They adapted it from the story by Mervin J. Houser, It was competently directed by Norman Taurog (“Boys Town”/”Palm Springs Weekend”), but in an unappealing formulaic way. It was remade as Pardners (1956), starring Martin and Lewis with Taurog also directing. Financially struggling dude ranch singing cowboy Jeff Larrabee (Bing Crosby) returns home by train to Arizona after performing in a rodeo held in Madison Square Garden. Meanwhile the wealthy Park Ave. heiress Doris Holloway (Frances Farmer) decides not to enter a loveless marriage with a Wall Street executive and boards incognito the same train Jeff is on. The strangers are both heading to the dude ranch, the Frying Pan Ranch, owned by Doris’ loudmouth wealthy aunt Penelope “Penny” Ryland (Lucille Webster Gleason). Jeff travels with prized bull “Cuddles” and his bazooka playing partner Buck (Bob Burns). When Jeff and Doris meet, she gives him a false name and story about herself. Jeff thereby acts as her protector. When the hobo Shorty (Billy Bletcher) and this thuggish pals, riding in the boxcar, discover Doris’ father (Samuel S. Hinds) is a rich banker, they scheme to kidnap her for the ransom. Somehow Cuddles bolts from the train and Doris stays with Jeff as he tracks the bull down. In an old car, they make their way to Jeff’s ranch in Green Pastures. When they venture over to the dude ranch they find Buck dancing with Emma (Martha Raye, her film debut at 20), a Macy’s salesgirl visiting her brother and hoping to lasso a cowboy. They also encounter an uppity Penny, who accuses Jeff of being a gold digger when she spots him courting the heiress. But have no fear, things get straightened out and love conquers all.

REVIEWED ON 7/10/2018 GRADE: C    https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/