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SONG OF THE GRINGO (director/writer: John P. McCarthy; screenwriters: Robert Emmett/Al Jennings/Wellyn Totman; cinematographer: Gus Peterson; editor: Frederick Bain; music: Tex Ritter; cast: Tex Ritter (Tex), Joan Woodbury (Lolita Maria Dolores Del Valle), Fuzzy Knight (Slim Zony), Tex Adams (Evans), Monte Blue (Sheriff), Warning Richmond (Henchman ‘Cherokee’), Al Jennings (Judge), William Desmond (Bailiff), Rosa Rey (Rosita, maid), Bob Burns (Norman Conklin, mine owner), Tex Phelps (Bill Henderson, mine owner); Runtime: 62; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edward F. Finney; Grand National; 1936)
Singing cowboy radio star Tex Ritter makes his movie debut.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Interesting only as a curio. Singing cowboy radio star Tex Ritter makes his movie debut. Mediocre director from the silents, John P. McCarthy (“The Fighting Champ”/”Lawless Border”/”The Cisco Kid Returns”),is director and cowriter of this below average B western/musical. Other writers are the uncredited Wellyn Totman, Robert Emmett and Al Jennings (a former real-life outlaw, who plays a judge here).

The New Mexico lawman Tex (Tex Ritter) is asked by his chief to go undercover to catch a gang of dangerous outlaws who are killing independent mine owners and making it look like accidents. The gang has business deals that give them control of their mines when the owners die and anyone who signs such a deal is murdered and their mines are claimed by the outlaws.

Not much mystery in locating the gang leader, he’s crooked businessman Evans (Ted Adams). Evans uses the ranch of Don Esteban del Valle (Martin Garralaga) and his pretty daughter Lolita (Joan Woodbury), as his headquarters. Tex poses as a bandit escaping from the sheriff (Monte Blue) after robbing a mine owner. Tex hides in Valle’s ranch, in fact in Lolita’s room, and talks his way into getting hired by Evans to be a gang member. Tex discovers the rancher is unaware of the dastardly deeds of his partner, though he becomes very wealthy as a result. Lolita takes one look at Tex and goes into a swoon, and Tex courts her throughout with songs.

Ritter finds time to sing such songs as “Sam Hall,” “Rye Whiskey,” “Out on the Lone Prairie,” “My Sweet Chiquita,” and “You Are Reality,” as he builds a case to nab the claim jumpers.

Ritter today is remembered for singing the theme song, “Do Not Forsake Me,” for High Noon (1952), and for being the father of 1970s television star John Ritter.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”