In Old Santa Fe (November 15, 1934)

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Ken Maynard and Smiley Burnette
 

Released on November 15, 1934: Kentucky tangles with a city girl, and gets framed for murder and almost loses his horse 'Tarzan'.

Directed by David Howard and Joseph Kane

The Actors: Ken Maynard (Kentucky 'Ken'), Gene Autry (the singing voice of Ken), Evalyn Knapp (Lila Miller), H.B. Warner (Charlie Miller, Lila's dad), Kenneth Thomson (Matt Korber, alias Mr. Chandler), George 'Gabby' Hayes (Cactus), Wheeler Oakman (Tracy), George Burton (henchman Red), George Chesebro (henchman Nick), Silver Tip Baker (party guest), Alice Belcher (spinster dude ranch guest), Stanley Blystone (outlaw Hank), Dick Botiller (party guest), Charles Brinley (wounded stage driver), Smiley Burnette (accordionist singer), Horace B. Carpenter (guest), Jim Corey (scrawny deputy), Gordon De Main (outlaw Tracy), Art Dillard (cowhand), Frank Ellis (burly deputy), Herman Hack (man at dance), Edward Hearn (outlaw), Jack Jones (musician), Jack Kirk (cowhand), Tracy Layne (deputy Ed), Cliff-Lyons (cowhand), Frankie Marvin (band musician), William McCall (doctor), Frank O'Connor (party guest), Jack Rockwell (Sheriff), Wes Warner (ranch hand), Wally West (cowhand at party).

 

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This cowboy western is a landmark in movies . . . It is the first movie with celebrated performer Gene Autry . . . well . . . Gene Autry was almost in this movie. Gene Autry played and sang locally, and his voice was used whenever cowboy hero Ken Maynard appeared to be singing. After this movie was finished, producer Nat Levine was impressed enough with the performance of Gene Autry that he signed him for his own movie, and the rest, as they say, is history. We will also see a young Gabby Hayes, who plays the part of 'Cactus' even more prickly than his name would suggest. And we see Smiley 'bullfrog' Burnette playing a bevy of instruments and singing with Gene, er, Ken, er, Ken with Gene's voice.

As our movie opens, it is 1934 in the old west, and an eastern fellow has a dude ranch near Santa Fe. Ken and Cactus are riding their horses towards the ranch so that Ken can enter a big horse race there and win some money for them. He is singing a song that exclaims that as long as a man has his dog, he can avoid the traps set by women - all he needs is a good dog. Soon a pretty young girl comes driving down the dirt trail in a convertible and almost runs them over, wrecking her car into a cactus bush. Ken's eyes light up, and he is smitten immediately by this girl. It turns out that she is the daughter of the fellow that owns the dude ranch, and she is coming west to join him. About that time a stage coach approaches with our bad guys in it. One of the bad guys is the son of a gangster that was partners with the dude ranch owner in the bad-old-days in the big city, and this son wants revenge against the dude ranch owner because he thought that he betrayed his papa. He also has eyes for the daughter as soon as he sees her, and seems to have the means to force her to become his.

So we have the romantic angle, the bad guys that will stir up lots of trouble for Ken and the girl's father, and some mighty good singing and dancing in between. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn and drizzle it with warm melted butter and settle down for one pretty good cowboy adventure of the old west in 1934 America.