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SINGING HILL, THE (director: Lew Landers; screenwriters: Olive Cooper/from the story by Gene Lasky Jr. and Richard Murphy; cinematographer: William Nobles; editor: Les Orlebeck; cast: Gene Autry (Himself), Smiley Burnette (Frog Millhouse), Virginia Dale (Jo Adams), Mary Lee (Patsy), George Meeker (Ramsey), Harry Stubbs (Morgan), Spencer Charters (Judge Henry Starbottle), Gerald Oliver Smith(Dada), Cactus Mack (Cactus Mack), Wade Boteler (Pop Sloan), Jack Kirk (Flint); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Grey; Republic; 1941)
Enjoyable singing formulaic B-Western from Gene Autry that’s more interested in comedy than action.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Enjoyable singing formulaic B-Western from Gene Autry that’s more interested in comedy than action. Lew Landers (“The Boogie Man Will Get You”/”The Return of the Vampire”/”Hurricane Island”)directs this breezy modern-day Western (there’s more cars than horses) about an unscrupulous businessman and a dizzy rich girl who has forgotten her roots.It’s based on a story byGene Lasky Jr. and Richard Murphy, and is written by Olive Cooper.

Gene Autry is the earnest ranch foreman of the long-standing Circle R ranch, owned by the Adams family. When the owner dies,he beqeathes the 50,000 acre property to his spoiled and irresponsible city slicker grand-daughter Jo Adams (Virginia Dale ). She hates ranch life and the wastrel has already spent the inheritance, so she sells the ranch to get money to continue living an idle party life in her big mansion in the city. The unscrupulous banker Ramsey (George Meeker) takes advantage of her situation from a tip by her slimy business manager Morgan (Harry Stubbs), who sells her out to the banker. The local ranchers in the Cattleman’s Association are upset because Ramsey will stop the free-grazing privileges, which means they can’t get their cattle to the railroad and their ranches will stop prospering.

Gene, with help from his sidekick Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette), the other hired cowhands and the feisty teenage orphan Patsy (Mary Lee) in his charge, acts to get Jo to change her mind and save the ranch so that all the locals won’t be forced to sell and lose a way of life they enjoyed for generations. When Jo doesn’t agree, Gene kidnaps her and her prissy foreign butler (Gerald Oliver Smith) and takes her back to the ranch so she can regain her senses and do the right thing for the community.

The public ate up these simplistic moralistic Autry cowboy films, and Gene rode high as the ‘King of the Cowboys’ during the 1940s.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”