SIOUX CITY SUE (director: Frank McDonald; screenwriter: Olive Cooper; cinematographer: Reggie Lanning; editor: Fred Allen; music: DaleButts; cast: Gene Autry(Gene Autry), Lynne Roberts (Sue Warner), Sterling Holloway (Nelson ‘Nellie’ Bly), Richard Lane (Jefferson Lang, Paragon Pictures), Ralph Sanford (Big Gulliver aka Dogface), Ken Lundy (Jody), Helen Wallace (Miss Price, Lang’s Secretary), Pierre Watkin (G.W. Rhodes, Paragon’s Owner), The Cass County Boys (Musicians); Runtime: 69; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Armand Schaefer; Republic; 1946)
“It’s Gene Autry’s first film after returning from military duty during WW II.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
It’s Gene Autry’s first film after returning from military duty during WW II. Director Frank McDonald (“The Purple Gang”/”The Matchmaking Marshal”/”Outlaw’s Son”) keeps Olive Cooper’s screenplay lighthearted as a modern western musical-comedy. The script is lifted from 1939’s “She Married a Cop.” It’s amazing that such an unlikely film provides an engrossing look behind the scenes of Republic’s back-lot, allowing us to see first-hand how Gene’s films are put together.
Cattle rancher Gene Autry, located at Whispering Rock, Arizona, is discovered by Hollywood talent scouts Sue Warner (Lynne Roberts) and Nelson “Nellie” Bly (Sterling Holloway) who are looking for an authentic cowboy singer. They have a tough time persuading him to give up ranching to be a famous movie star for their slightly dishonest producer boss (Richard Lane), but when the scouts unwittingly cause a cattle stampede on Autry’s ranch he agrees to do it for the money needed to recoup his loses. Gene is led to believe that he and his beloved horse Champion will be starring in an authentic Western picture. In Hollywood Gene is disillusioned to find he’s being asked only to be the voice of an animated donkey. After he quits, the head mogul (Pierre Watkin) at Paragon hears Gene sing on a screen test and he’s invited back to star in the film called Sioux City Sue. Acting in the film doesn’t prevent Gene from stopping outlaws from blowing up a dam, as they hope to flood Gene’s ranch to rustle his cattle and financially ruin him in order to get his ranch through forfeiture.
For a B-Western with low production values, it was well-made and thoroughly enjoyable. Lynne Roberts provides the physical comedy, while Gene sings the theme song (was a 1946 Hit Parade song), “Oklahoma Hills,” “Someday You’ll Want Me to Want You,” “Red River Valley,” “Ridin’ Double,” “Yours” and “Great GrDad.”
REVIEWED ON 2/24/2009 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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