31 December 2010 | wes-connors
Last Flight for Will Rogers
Folksy horse trainer Will Rogers (as Steve Tapley) tends to a feudin' family, promotes young romance, and helps get "Greyboy" the horse ready to run in the Big Race. "In Old Kentucky" is most notable as the last Will Rogers film released. His death in a plane crash on August 15, 1935 shocked the nation (and much of the world). At the time, Mr. Rogers was one of Hollywood's most popular movie star. He was in the Quigley Publications "Top Ten Money-Making Stars" from 1932-1935.
When Rogers died, the studio had two finished films - "In Old Kentucky" was released after, but finished before "Steamboat Round the Bend". The studio wasn't sure how mourners would receive the films, but both were big hits. For two decades, Rogers had managed to conquer all entertainment mediums, no matter how unlikely; unable to use his distinctive voice in silent films, he thrilled viewers with rope tricks. He would have likely headed 1940s war efforts and worked in 1950s television.
While well-received, this film is no more than mediocre. The reasons to watch are to see Rogers and the cast in a good mood, with occasional moments. Like Al Jolson, Rogers could get away with ethnic humor, but the "black-face" routine herein doesn't work. The toothy grin from expert dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (as Wash Jackson) and shoot-from-the-hip hillbilly Charles Sellon (Ezra Martingale) are more subtle instances of the same. If you can get past the times, they are enjoyable.
***** In Old Kentucky (11/28/35) George Marshall ~ Will Rogers, Charles Sellon, Bill Robinson, Dorothy Wilson