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  • Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette made an auspicious debut in the Ken Maynard vehicle, "In Old Santa Fe" (1934). Although their footage is limited to a couple of musical numbers, they still make quite an impression. Furthermore, the movie is almost in the "A" class. Filled with great action, plus humor, plus excellent acting (particularly from Ken Maynard, Gabby Hayes, Evalyn Knapp, H.B. Warner, Kenneth Thomson and Wheeler Oakman), stylish direction by David Howard, a fast-paced script, class-"A" songs and superb production values, "In Old Santa Fe" is a must-have DVD, especially for fans of Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Gabby Hayes (in full flight here), Ken Maynard (who comes across with far more personality than usual), and even Bob Nolan (who dubs Maynard's comic song, "That's What I Like About My Dog").
  • In the history of B-westerns, no other cowboy star had a worse reputation among those who worked with him. Although Maynard was a top star, he reportedly treated the crew of his films like dirt and frequently argued with his bosses about money. According to IMDb, he was so disagreeable that 'to never have met Maynard was reportedly a blessing'!! But the studio was stuck--he was a top star. However, in the film "In Old Santa Fe", the studio accidentally found an answer to their problems--in the form of Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette. Both were only in the film a few minutes to provide some musical numbers but they did such a nice job--and the executives decided to feature Autry instead of Maynard in an upcoming film. From here on, Maynard's career was in a tailspin--working for smaller and smaller studios for less and less pay until he was pushed out of pictures just a decade or so later. So, "In Old Santa Fe" marks the beginning of the end for Maynard. And, to make things worse, years later some bozos pasted Autry's name at the beginning of the film--even though he's barely in this movie!

    The sad truth is that "In Old Santa Fe" is a terrific film--one of the best of its kind. If Maynard had only been a nicer person, he could have remained a first tier star--and he is wonderful in this movie. It's far better than his later films and showed that he could appear to be a heck of a guy.

    The movie begins with Kentucky (Maynard) and Cactus (Gabby Hayes) heading to the Miller (H.B. Warner) ranch. On the way, Miller's daughter is driving pretty recklessly but it gives her a nice chance to meet handsome Maynard. Maynard is smitten and Cactus is wonderfully grouchy both here and throughout the film! However, in the meantime, a nasty piece of work, Chandler (Kenneth Thomson) shows up and begins trying to blackmail Miller and vows to force Miller to give him his beautiful daughter! Naturally, Kentucky is in the way and Chandler and his evil sidekick vow to destroy Kentucky. But, being a cowboy hero, you just know that he'll somehow save himself, sweet Lila Miller and her father!

    This is a terrific film--probably better than any Roy Rogers or Gene Autry film I've seen (and I've seen a lot). The plot is surprisingly good, the acting very good (I loved Gabby in this one), the musical numbers by Autry and Burnette were excellent and the film SHOULD have been just one more nice film in Maynard's long career! Too bad but I guess this is indeed a case of what goes around, comes around. A must-see for fans of the genre as well as Autry fans.
  • Man snubbing Kentucky who was trying to sell him western gear. "I don't wish to look like a fool." "My mistake, my mistake, but I don't think the clothes would make any difference."

    I wonder how many horses were lamed filming that. Just horrible. Nobody in his or her right mind would put a horse through the race. But that was some fantastic riding. The plot shows what a trip wire could do to a horse and yet they surely used trip wires for the falls. I got an extra appreciation for the danger of the runaway stage stunt when I learned of a re-creation trail ride a few years ago where the team of a wagon was spooked and one of the horses died after getting entangled backwards in the harness.

    Odd that someone named Kentucky didn't even try for a KY accent. :) I went to a Ken Maynard film festival in Columbus, IN, put on by a family member. I'd never heard of him before that. We saw some of his silent movies. It's interesting that a boy from Vevay, IN, could perform in carnivals and circuses then go west and become a trick rider with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, a circus rider with Ringling Brothers, and have a career in Hollywood. He also managed to squeeze in a stint with the army in WWI, apparently escaping being crippled or traumatized.

    It was an exciting time for an adventurous soul. Cole Porter from Peru, IN, born only four years earlier than Ken, went the opposite direction and took NYC by storm. (He, however, wasn't as lucky with his horse, poor guy.)

    The mingling of the sophistication of the cities with the still fairly primitive conditions of the West and Great Plains made for excellent contrasts in early westerns. It gave the audience the feeling that they could go there and have amazing things happen to them, too. It was part fantasy and part advertisement.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The reissue print I saw lists Gene Autry as the star, but the truth is he's only in one scene singing a song at a party. The real star of the film is Ken Maynard, one of the first singing cowboys in one of his last appearances in "musical" western. The Plot has to do with Ken helping out the owner of a dude ranch that is wanted by a gangster. First the gangster fixes a horse race and then he resorts to murder and robbery, framing Maynard in the hope of getting him out of the way. Good action packed film is slowed down by too many songs. The songs aren't bad but it takes up too much room with the result being that the first 40 minutes is rather leisurely while the final 15 or 20 minutes is a race to the wire. I wish things had been more spread out, especially since the film kind of slows to a crawl after the horse race. Still its worth a look, preferably as part of a double feature evening.
  • A screen test for Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette which they passed with flying colors. I just wish we could've had more of their songs in this film. Ken actually quite good in this one. If he would've been that good behind the scenes, he would've had a longer career. George 'Gabby' Hayes was a tour de force as Maynard's sidekick. Evalyn Knapp played it beautifully as the gold miner's daughter and the most sought after girlfriend. Joseph Kane codirected another masterful western.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    And that's just for starters! There's no doubting only Gabby Hayes could deliver a line like that and he was doing it here when he was still being billed as George Hayes. Still the same old Gabby though, looking like an old codger even though he was still far from his prime as the ultimate Western sidekick.

    What threw me for a loop was an opening screen intro that stated 'Nat Levine Presents Gene Autry' for this picture when it actually starred Ken Maynard. Gene does make an appearance past the midway point, and I can now say I saw him in his very first picture. Not only that, but he brought Smiley Burnette along for HIS very first picture too, so this film merits entry in the Western movie trivia Hall of Fame.

    I can't say I've seen Ken Maynard sing in one of his films before, but that's the way the picture starts out with him crooning something along the lines of 'As Long As I Got My Dog'. As far as the story goes, it's a pretty standard one in which the hero outwits the bad guys and wins the pretty female lead (Evalyn Knapp as Lila Miller) by the time the sun goes down. Kentucky Ken and partner Cactus (Hayes) uncover a scheme in which villain Chandler/Korber (Kenneth Thompson) attempts to blackmail pretty Lila's father (H.B. Warner) over his own criminal past.

    With all that's going on here, I can't help thinking that Maynard, the nominal star wound up playing second fiddle to the characters around him. Autry only appears on screen for a few brief moments, and his voice sounds a little twangy singing 'In Old Wyoming', while Smiley is a hoot introducing his froggy voice with 'My Momma Don't Allow'. You also have to credit Maynard's palomino Tarzan for a major role in the story, what with all the tricky maneuvering around obstacles, over jumps and rugged terrain in that horse race through the canyon. If the story had anything to do with Old Santa Fe you could have fooled me, but then again, it WAS one of the songs done by Gene Autry.
  • bkoganbing13 April 2015
    In Old Santa Fe has come down to us as the debut film for both Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette both off the Old Barn Dance radio show. But aside from Gene's singing and Ken Maynard's dubbed singing it's not a bad modern day western with a bit of comedy and mystery thrown into the film as a bargain.

    A pair of villains Kenneth Thomson and Wheeler Oakman arrive at H.B. Warner's dude ranch. Years ago Warner was a crook, but he left the big city and lives quiet and rich due to his dude ranch's popularity and the fact he's got a goldmine on the premises.

    Which attract Thomson and Oakman. Thomson also has a Snidely Whiplash like interest in Warner's daughter Evelyn Knapp. But of course she can only see cowboy hero Ken Maynard.

    Big mistake Thomson and Oakman make was setting up a race horse where they trick Maynard's sidekick Gabby Hayes into putting up Maynard's horse Tarzan to cover a bet. You just don't do that to a cowboy hero especially since the race is rigged for them to win.

    Maynard nails these two with some modern type forensic investigation and all's well that ends well as the Bard put it. This was the kind of plot that you would see a lot of in the Forties in Roy Rogers' westerns.

    Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette make their debuts in a country dance at the dude ranch. Autry was grateful to Maynard for his big break and helped him out a lot when he was old, broke, and alcoholic. Maynard became his personal charity.

    In Old Santa Fe holds up quite well for today's viewers.
  • Gangster Chandler and his accomplice Tracy arrive at a dude ranch.

    Cowboy Kentucky arrives at the same time.

    When Tracy double-crosses his boss and has the stage robbed, Kentucky finds the outlaws and brings them in.

    Tracy frames him for the murder of the driver but his pal Cactus gets him out of jail.

    He returns just as Chandler shoots Tracy and Kentucky finds himself arrested for another murder.

    I suppose if you are a fan of this genre you will like the movie.

    I'm not such a fan.

    It's OK.