Gene Autry and Champion in Round-Up Time in Texas (1937)


(director: Joseph Kane; screenwriter: Oliver Drake; cinematographer: William Nobles; editor: Lester Orlebeck; music: Harry Grey; cast: Gene Autry (Gene Autry), Smiley Burnette (Frog Millhouse), Maxine Doyle (Gwen Barkley), Cabin Kids (Chief Bosuto’s Children), LeRoy Mason (John Cardigan), Earle Hodgins (Barkey McKusky), Ken Cooper (Tex Autry), Dick Wessel (Henchman Johnson), Cornie Anderson (Namba), Buddy Williams (Chief Bosuto); Runtime: 63; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Nat Levine; Republic; 1937)

“The story is for the birds, but the odd Tarzan atmosphere for an oater gives it an interesting look.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Veteran B Western filmmaker Joseph Kane (“The Old Barn Dance”/”Git Along Little Dogies”/”Melody Trail”) helms this offbeat and mostly fun western set in South Africa. Oliver Drake is the screenwriter. The story is for the birds, but the odd Tarzan atmosphere for an oater gives it an interesting look. I think it worked just because it doesn’t really work as a typical Autry western.

Gene Autry and comic relief sidekick Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette) leave Texas to deliver a herd of horses to Gene’s brother Tex, who discovered a diamond mine in Dunbar, South Africa. The Texan cowpokes arrive by boat and find out that Tex’s partner Barkley was murdered and he’s been framed for the murder. The obvious villain is John Cardigan (LeRoy Mason), who is trying to steal the diamond mine. Gene heads to the mine location at the Valley of Superstition, and while in the jungle is captured by a native tribe. Cardigan and the high-class singer in his saloon, Gwen (Maxine Doyle), are also in the jungle and are captured by the tribe. It turns out Gwen suspected Cardigan of murdering her father and is pretending a romantic interest in him so she can get the goods on him. When Gwen becomes convinced that Tex is not the murderer, she helps Gene find the real killer.

The rumble in the jungle includes Frog doing magic tricks with fire water to get Gene’s release from the chief, the chief’s kids (Cabin Kids) learning to sing Western songs from Frog, and some out of place Western scenes such as a horse stampede in Cardigan’s saloon and Gene rescuing Gwen from a runaway horse and buggy in the jungle. Go figure, this one is a Western!