Moonlight and Cactus (September 9, 1944)
Released on September 8, 1944: Some sailors on leave go to a buddy's cattle ranch that is now run by girls, but the cattle keep disappearing.
Directed by Edward F. Cline
Written by Eugene Conrad and Paul Girard Smith.
The Actors: The Andrews Sisters (singers), Patty Andrews (member, The Andrews Sisters), Maxene Andrews (member, The Andrews Sisters), Laverne Andrews (member, The Andrews Sisters), Leo Carrillo (Pasqualito Luigi), Elyse Knox (Louise Ferguson), Tom Seidel (Tom Garrison), Shemp Howard (Punchy Carter), Eddie Quillan (Stubby Lamont), Murray Alper (Slugger McGee), Tom Kennedy (Lucky), Frank Lackteen (Ogala), Chatita Tovar (child dancer), Minerva Urecal (Abigail), Mitchell Ayres (himself, band leader), Lollita Tovar (child dancer), Jaqueline deWit (Elsie), Mitchell Ayres Orchestra (musicians), Mary O'Brien (Amanda), Mandy Correll (ranch girl), Harry Tenbrook (sailor).
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Moonlight and Cactus is a war-time romantic comedy designed to encourage the women that had to step up and do a man's work while their men were off fighting the Second World War. The Andrews Sisters star as three ranch hands that are handling the cattle and keeping the ranch prosperous while the men are either fighting or working in war time factories in support of the war. The Mitchell Ayres Orchestra accompanies the cast as they boogie through this light-hearted comedy.
A Merchant Marine vessel, delivering goods in support of the war effort, is back to pick up another load of cargo destined for the fighting men, but the crew has a short shore leave and nowhere to spend their time, because they have no money, having lost it all to one of the guys while gambling. One of the men owns a cattle ranch nearby, and invites them all to join him on the ranch. There won't be any women, but lots of good steak dinners and hard ranch work. But when they arrive at the ranch, they discover that the entire ranch has been taken over by women. At first the owner is outraged that all of his ranch hands are gone, but soon discovers that the ranch is running just fine at the hands of these ladies, and even making record profits. There is only one problem, that the girls try to hide from the men - someone is rustling cattle from them, and they are losing several head of cattle every night.
After some songs and slapstick humor, featuring the Andrews Sisters, and Shemp Howard, later to join the Three Stooges, the foreman of the ranch hires a neighbor to track down the stolen cattle, not knowing that the neighbor rancher is the one that is actually taking the cattle. More singing, and a party at the rustler's ranch across the river, and all ends well, with romance and song.
If you enjoy the swing and boogie woogie music that got us out of the Great Depression and through the Second World War, and juvenile slapstick humor makes you smile, you will absolutely love this movie - there is even a line in it where Minerva Urecal, playing the crusty older woman, can't find where she left her popcorn. In that scene, the ranch owner tells her that he is so impressed with the gal that has become the foreman of the ranch, saying that she worked so hard that God should have made her a man. Minerva shoots back the comment that, "God probably did make her a man, she just ain't found him yet . . . or did she."