Copyright 2 July 1942 by Republic Pictures Corp. No recorded New York opening. U.S. release: 2 July 1942. Never theatrically released in Australia or broadcast on television. 6 reels. 61 minutes.
SYNOPSIS: Zorro/Destry revisited.
COMMENT: Our hats are off to the boys at Roadshow Video. No hard-headed theatermen these, with their eyes firmly fixed on profits. One of their first offerings in their new Republic Collection is a Roy Rogers movie originally judged so lacking in commercial appeal in some territories that it wasn't even released! Of course it's possible the original distributors were wrong. But now that we've had a chance to view the movie at long last - for which our heartfelt thanks - we're tempted to agree that it's not one of Roy's finest.
Mind you, it's attractively cast. Rogers himself is at his charming best, even though he's handed only three choruses, and he's appealingly supported by Hayes doing his juggling act (a nice bit of business this), and Maris Wrixon acting perky and looking beautiful. Bradley Page is okay as the heavy, but Hal Taliaferro is more impressive as his henchman. Chester Conklin has a few close-ups to try out one or two of his comic expressions. And although unbilled, Pat Brady has a lead role as Gabby's sidekick, while Bob Nolan is oddly though not disturbingly cast as the heroine's ranch foreman.
The problems are not entirely with the script either. It builds up to a double-action climax and has a few chases and stunts along the way. The trouble is that the climax is resolved too quickly, the chases are all filmed from static camera positions, and one of the stunts is so weak that I could do it myself (and I'm no athlete).
A lot of the action takes place at night. While the darkened studio interiors look good, the day-for-night exteriors look very shoddy indeed. The washed out, TV-graded dupe of a 16mm print under review doesn't help either. (This video was allegedly mastered from "original film negative". I don't know about you, but I call original film negative the master negative from which the 1942 35mm theatrical prints were struck. Instead this video print was made from a 16mm dupe negative, deliberately over-exposed for TV use. A dupe negative - and a lousy one at that - is not an original film negative, boys).
In short a minor western outing indeed, made on a limited budget, hastily directed and at times even clumsily edited. This one is mainly aimed for Maris Wrixon fans.
Incidentally, the title has nothing to do with the plot. And as for The Sons of the Pioneers as a singing group, they figure very briefly only at the very beginning and very end of the picture.
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