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SONG OF NEVADA (director: Joe Kane; screenwriters: Olive Cooper/Gordon Kahn; cinematographer: Jack Marta; editor: Tony Martinelli; music: Mort Glickman; cast: Roy Rogers (Himself), Dale Evans (Joan Barrabee), Mary Lee (Kitty Hanley), Lloyd Corrigan (Professor Hanley), Forrest Taylor (Colonel Jack Thompson), Thurston Hall (John Barrabee), John Eldredge (Rollo Bingham), LeRoy Mason (Ferguson), Bob Nolan (Himself), The Sons of the Pioneers (Themselves), George Meeker (Callahan); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating:NR; producer: Harry Grey; Mill Creek Entertainment; 1944)
“By having no action it makes for a dull Western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Disappointing Western directed by Joe Kane (“The Crooked Circle”/”Brimstone“/”The Man Who Died Twice”), as written by Olive Cooper and Gordon Kahn. Goes out of the way to denigrate fast-living New York citified life for the virtues of the bean-eaters of rural America. It’s all melodrama and song, and by having no action it makes for a dull Western.

Rich Nevada rancher John Barrabee (Thurston Hall) returns by plane from Manhattan after failing to bring back his daughter Jenny (Dale Evans), who goes against his wishes and remains engaged to snooty fortune hunter Rollo Bingham (John Eldredge) and plans to live with him in New York as a city gal. The plane makes an emergency stop for repairs in Lomitas, Nevada. There Barrabee meets singing cowboy Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneer, as they sing around a campfire. Having a good time with Roy, Barrabee misses his flight while out horse back riding and decides to go along with Roy on his cattle drive. At the end of the cattle drive they read in the newspaper that the plane crashed into a dam and Barrabee was reported as dead. They also read that Jenny plans on selling the Mesa County ranch and then marrying Rollo, and are at the ranch now. Barrabee cooks up a scheme to stop the ranch sale and marriage, as he hires Roy to drive the Barrabee entry in the annual Frontier Days stagecoach race and gives him a written contract signed before his death. The loyal Jenny is forced to honor it. When Roy wins, Jenny’s godfather and friendly neighbor rancher, Colonel Jack Thompson (Forrest Taylor), is irate because he loses when a tampered axle bolt causes the stagecoach to go off the road. The colonel accuses Roy of sabotage after he finds the pin in his coat pocket. The crooked foreman, Ferguson (LeRoy Mason), of Barrabee’s ranch did the dirty work on the orders of the jealous Rollo to frame Rogers.

Barrabee, hiding in his fishing shack, comes up with another scheme, as hires the conniving mountebank traveling medicine salesman, Professor Jeremiah Hanley (Lloyd Corrigan) and his teenage daughter Kitty (Mary Lee) to pose as investors who bought the ranch prior to Barrabee’s death and paid cash for it. It’s presumed the cash went down with Barrabee during the crash, and Rollo makes plans to exit to New York when he learns Jenny is broke. But when Roy shows up to tell Jenny the truth, Rollo overhears it and returns. He then sends Ferguson to the fishing shack. After a squabble with the now alive ranch owner over cattle stolen by the foreman and sold by him for his personal profit, Roy comes in the nick of time to save Barrabee’s life. When captured for attempted murder and cattle theft, Ferguson tells the Colonel he was also the culprit who caused the stagecoach breakdown and the sheriff also arrests Rollo for his part in that crime. It ends on a happy note, with Jenny falling in love with Roy and realizing it’s home on the range for her from now on with the straight-arrow cowboy Rogers.

There’s no director that could have made such a schlocky plot line work, not even a talented one like Kane.

The best tune sung goes to the rendition of The Harum Scarum Baron of the Harmonium.”


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”