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Cowboy Legends Collector's Set [2 Discs] [DVD]
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Overview

Synopsis

Hands Across the Border
There's practically no western action in Hands Across the Border, but there's music aplenty. Roy Rogers stars as a wandering cavalier (named "Roy Rogers", naturally), who comes to the aid of entertainer Kim Adams (Ruth Terry). The daughter of a rancher, Kim does her patriotic bit by raising prize horses for the Army. But villainous Brock Danvers (Onslow Stevens) does his best to keep Kim's stock from reaching the Army, and that's when Rogers comes to the rescue. The final two reels of Hands Across the Border is a virtual nonstop parade of musical numbers by the likes of Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington, and featuring Rogers, Ruth Terry, Janet Martin and that zany European comedy trio The Wiere Brothers. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Billy the Kid Returns
Roy Rogers fans were in for a shock in the opening scenes of Billy the Kid Returns--for there was Rogers, playing the title character, being gunned down in the dark by sheriff Pat Garrett! Within a few minutes, however, things were explained satisfactorally when Rogers showed up again as a young cowpoke who bears a striking resemblance to the late Billy. Mistaken for the the notorious outlaw, Rogers finally clears himself by bringing villains Morgansson (Morgan Wallace) and Matson (Fred Kohler Sr.) to justice. The musical numbers are strategically placed throughout the film as tension-breakers during the more hair-raising moments. Lynne Roberts, who briefly changed her name to Mary Hart before reverting to Lynne Roberts again, made the first of several appearances opposite "The King of the Cowboys". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Man From Utah
After helping prevent a bank robbery, young drifter John Weston (John Wayne) is assigned by Marshal Higgins (George "Gabby" Hayes to look into a series of suspicious deaths among champion rodeo riders. Weston falls for lovely Marjorie Carter (Polly Ann Young) along the way but she gets jealous when he suddenly shifts his attention to fiery Dolores (Anita Campillo, whose name is misspelled "Compillo" in the onscreen credits). The Mexican charmer, however, is in league with Spike Barton (Edward Peil, Sr.), the brain behind the murders, and Weston's interest is purely business. Like most of John Wayne's "Lone Star" Westerns, The Man from Utah was filmed along California's Kern River. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Border Patrol
Though released after Hoppy Serves a Writ, the 1943 Hopalong Cassidy entry Border Patrol was filmed first, to capitalize on America's new "Good Neighbor Policy" with Mexico. Hoppy (William Boyd) and his pals California (Andy Clyde) and Johnny (Jay Kirby), investigate a group of crooks who've been smuggling alien laborers across the border. The villains treat their Mexican help as virtual slaves, killing off anyone who complains. When Hoppy and company invade the illegal work camp, they're subject to a kangaroo court and sentenced to be hanged. But with the help of the Mexican prisoners, our heroes not only escape, but bring the bad guys to justice. Border Patrol features Robert Mitchum in an unbilled bit, but it's difficult to determine whether or not this was his first movie appearance. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Eyes of Texas
Few Roy Rogers westerns were as gratuitously violent as the 1948 release Eyes of Texas. This time, Rogers' principal antagonist is a woman lawyer named Hattie Waters (Nana Bryant). With a battalion of homicidal henchmen at her beck and call, Hattie attempts to grab up all the valuable ranch property in the territory by scaring off -- or killing off -- her competition. Hero Rogers doesn't buy the official party line that the killings have been perpetrated by wolves, especially after he befriends and tames one of the huge beasts, so he divides his time between singing his usual quota of songs and bringing the baddies to justice. So convincing was Nana Bryant's performance as the despicable Hattie Waters, that the actress' daughter-in-law stubbornly refused to watch Eyes of Texas whenever it popped up on TV in later years. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Riders of the Whistling Pines
Gene Autry's second 1949 release for Columbia was Riders of the Whistling Pines. As was customary for Autry, the title refers to one of the songs heard in the film, rather than the plotline at hand. The villains busy themselves destroying all the timber in a government forest preserve. When Autry steps in to stop the bad guys, they cook up a frame by accusing him of poisoning cattle. Jimmy Lloyd co-stars as an aviator who figures prominently in the action-packed finale. Autry's leading lady this time out is Patricia White, who later gained prominence on TV as Patricia Barry. At 72 minutes, Riders of the Whistling Pines was one of the longest of Autry's Columbia efforts. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Doomed Caravan
This Hopalong Cassidy western finds Hoppy (William Boyd), Lucky (Russell Hayden) and California (Andy Clyde) trying to save Minna Gombell's wagon-freighting line. Bad guys Morris Ankrum and Trevor Bardette (five points to anyone who can tell these mustachioed miscreants apart) plan to sabotage Ankrum's operation so they can take over the franchise. The climax is a rousing wagon chase, which came in handy as stock footage in later years. Ingenue Georgia Hawkins attracted warm praise from reviewers, but she disappeared from films shortly afterward. Co-written by Johnston McCulley of Zorro fame, Doomed Caravan was the 32nd "Hopalong Cassidy" entry. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Hell Town
Paramount borrowed John Wayne from Republic Pictures for the studio's second screen version of Zane Grey's Born to the West, which was also the Western's original release title. A couple of drifters, Dare Rudd (Wayne) and Dinkie Hooley (Sid Saylor), arrive in a Wyoming town hoping for a handout from Dare's rancher cousin, Tom Fillmore (Johnny Mack Brown). Dare takes but one look at Tom's girlfriend, Judy Worstall (Marsha Hunt), and decides to stay in town. He obtains the job of chuck wagon cook, but Judy, who is falling for the charming newcomer, convinces Tom to give Dare a job with more responsibilities. To get rid of a potential rival and to prove Dare's irresponsibility once and for all, Tom assigns his cousin the job of selling the herd. Unbeknownst to either Tom or Dare, however, saloon owner Bart Hammond (Monte Blue) also has his greedy eye on the herd and sets a trap for Dare. Hell Town used quite a bit of stock footage from the original silent version, Born to the West, which had starred Jack Holt. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Big Show
The Big Show is a modestly budgeted but elaborately turned out Gene Autry western. Autry plays "himself," a famous cowboy star, and his own stunt man. When Autry-the-star reneges on a agreement to make a personal appearance at Dallas' Texas Centennial (represented through newsreel shots), Autry-the-stunt man takes his boss' place. This causes confusion with the ladies, and with a gang of mobsters who were hoping to extort money from Autry-the-star. Ever protective of his own image, Gene Autry saw to it that both of his cinematic alter egos prove worthy of their salt in a climactic fist-fight with the villains. Also appearing in The Big Show is a radio aggregation called the Sons of the Pioneers, featuring future Gene Autry rival Roy Rogers. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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