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The Best of Gene Autry [DVD]

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Special Features

  • Interactive menus
  • Original graphics
  • Film information
  • Chapters-direct scene access
  • Biography
  • Facts & trivia
  • Special collector's photo gallery


Man of the Frontier
Singing cowboy Gene Autry stars in this formula western as Gene Autry (so far, so good), who teams up with his buddy Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette) to investigate a series of accidents which have stopped construction of a dam being constructed by Sam Flint (George Baxter) and claimed the lives of much of the work crew. The progress of the damn is also thwarted when Bull Dural (George Cheseboro) and his gang attempt to steal the payroll; Gene and Frog suspect Bull may also be behind the deadly dirty tricks campaign before discovering he's just a pawn in a bigger game. Autry finds time to sing five tunes during the proceedings, inclusing the classic title song. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

The Old Barn Dance
An enjoyably silly Gene Autry romp, this music Western had an early ecological message: Horse-power instead of tractors. Or at least tractors manufactured by greedy Thornton Farming Equipment. Having lost his horse-trading business to Thornton (Ivan Miller), Autry signs with Helen Valkis' local Grainville radio station. But unbeknownst to the singer, the program is sponsored by none other than Thornton, and when the farmers cannot live up to the greedy manufacturer's finance plan, they blame Autry. In typical Autry style, Autry not only bests Thornton on the business front, but also receives more attention at the local fair than the Thornton-sponsored Big City entertainment. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Rootin' Tootin' Rhythm
Gene Autry and his sidekick, Smiley Burnette, are suspected of cattle rustling in this action-packed Republic Pictures Western directed by former actor Mack V. Wright. Actually, Gene and Frog (Burnette) had been chasing a couple of real cattle rustlers, Apache Kid (Max Hoffman Jr.) and Black Jim (Charles King), when they discovered the bodies of two lawmen. Realizing that the rustlers killed their pursuers, our heroes get the bright idea of masquerading in the apparel left by the outlaws. Heading for the border, things get even more complicated, but Gene and his pal manage to stay alive and catch the secret leader of the gang, Joe Stafford (Monte Blue), the supposed upstanding head of the cattlemen's association. When they're not chasing down rustlers, Autry, Burnette, and Al Clauser and his Oklahoma Outlaws perform "The Old Home Place," "Mexicali Rose," and the title tune, all by Sol Meyer, Jule Styne, and Raoul Kraushaar. Rootin' Tootin' Rhythm was partially filmed on-location in Lone Pine, CA, where the production took advantage of a terrific real-life storm. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Springtime in the Rockies
Gene Autry and veteran Western director Jospeh Kane team up for this lightweight effort. Gene (Gene Autry) is the foreman of a ranch which has just been put under new ownership, though he soon has his doubts about his new boss -- Sandra Knight (Polly Rowles), a pretty young woman with a college degree in animal husbandry but little practical experience of life on the range. When Sandra decides to raise sheep instead of cattle, it doesn't settle with the neighboring ranchers, and Gene is forced to make peace with both factions. As usual, Springtime In The Rockies features a handful of songs from Autry, with Jimmy LeFuer and his Saddle Pals providing accompaniment. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Boots and Saddles
A superior Gene Autry Western in every way, Boots and Saddles features child prodigy Ra Hould (aka Ronald Sinclair) as Edward, Earl of Granville, a young Briton arriving in the West to claim his inheritance: a sprawling ranch. Foreman Gene Autry and sidekick, Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette), who had promised Master Edward's late father that they would turn the boy into a true Westerner, are shocked by the young nobleman's haughty demeanor and his plan to sell the indebted property to the highest bidder. Gene, however, manages to change the boy's mind in the last minute, much to the dismay of the potential buyer, Jim Neale (William Elliott), a wealthy neighbor to whom Edward's father was indebted. Planning to sell ponies to the army, Gene, Frog, and young Edward quickly alienate the local commander, Colonel Allen (Guy Usher) , whose daughter, Bernice (Judith Allen), Gene mistakes for a servant wench. Allen, however, changes his mind about purchasing Gene's horses after observing the wonder horse Champion in action, proposing instead a race between Gene, Neale, and their crews for the profitable contract. Not about to lose out to Gene, his rival for Bernice's attentions, Neale decides to play dirty but Gene still manages to win the race. At the finishing line, Frog reveals Neale's treachery, and Bernice and Gene make up. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, 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

The Old Corral
A typical Gene Autry everything-but-the-kitchen-sink musical Western, The Old Corral featured the spectacle of Autry getting robbed at gunpoint by his future rival, Roy Rogers. Rogers, who was then known as Dick Weston, and his fellow highwaymen (the singing group the Sons of the Pioneers) go about their illegal activities like true gentlemen, of course, refusing to rob female passengers Nora Cecil and Hope Manning. The latter, playing Eleanor Spencer, is wanted by both the authorities and the Chicago mob after witnessing gangster Mike Scarlotti (John Bradford) murder rival Tony Pearl (Buddy Roosevelt). En route to Los Angeles by Greyhound bus, she hooks up with small town saloon owner Martin Simms (Cornelius Keefe) who offers her a job singing in his Turquoise City establishment. Both Simms and Turquoise City sheriff Gene Autry, however, recognize Eleanor as the key witness in the Pearl murder case and the former is quick to notify Scarlotti. Arriving to silence the girl for good, the Chicago mobsters are met by Sheriff Autry, Deputy Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette), and their erstwhile prisoners, the O'Keefe brothers (Rogers, Bob Nolan, and the Sons of the Pioneers, the brothers having taken a break from harmonizing in their cell). The outcome, of course, is a given and the entire gang is soon behind bars. Milburn Morante, a veteran silent screen comedian who was rarely very funny, is actually amusing this time around as a farmer with car troubles, and Lon Chaney Jr. is well cast as Simms' lumbering henchman. Leading lady Hope Manning later signed with Warner Bros., changed her name to Irene Manning, and starred as Fay Templeton opposite James Cagney's George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). Aside from all the aforementioned pleasures, The Old Corral is probably the only chance to see silent screen cowboy star Buddy Roosevelt playing a tuxedo-clad mobster. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Oh, Susanna!
Gene Autry is the star (but not the title character) of Oh, Susanna!, a Republic musical western. What plot there is consists of Autry running afoul of masked robbers. Thrown from a speeding train, Autry is rescued by comedy relief Smiley Burnette and grizzled Earle Hodgins. Autry takes a few more singing breaks, then brings the robbers to justice. A 1951 William Elliott western, also titled Oh, Susanna! is not a remake. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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