20 November 2005 | krorie
Little Lord Fauntleroy Goes West
This is a typical early Gene Autry western which means it is above average for a B oater. There are half a dozen musical numbers in the film, most of them sung by Gene. Frog does get to sing one of his own compositions "Dusty Roads," which is always a treat. The song title was apropos since the film was made during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Smiley was a much better musician and songwriter than he was a comic. The show is filled with the usual amount of Republic action. Republic stunts and special effects were always top of the line for its day, an exciting horse race toward the end is a good example. The audience was never disappointed. There is even a bicycle chase added for variety. Gene's movies were almost always "modern" westerns, which meant they often had automobiles, telephones, radios and other such 20th century gadgets.
The story is not bad. A British heir to the ranch where Gene and Frog work arrives to sell the place. He is a youngster who looks like a dude. To Gene and Frog's surprise the dude, called Spud after his father's nickname, turns out to be a driver and a skilled horseman. Gene takes him under his wing and persuades him not to sell. Enter Gordon Elliott, who not long after wards would become Wild Bill Elliott and rival Gene at the box office. Elliott plays the villain. With his sneaky looks and mustache, he comes across as a Snidely Whiplash type that was popular in the melodramas of the silent era. Seems he is selling horses to the cavalry and wants the British heir's horse ranch to extend his domain. Gene and Frog turn the tables and convince Spud who looks like Little Lord Fauntleroy at first to sell his horses and get the ranch out of debt. Col. Allen, the cavalry horse buyer, has a beautiful daughter, Bernice, who pretends to be a housemaid to get back at Gene for a run-in on the trail. One humorous part has Bernice telling Gene that the Colonel is hard of hearing and so has to be yelled at. The Colonel is told that Gene is the one who is hard of hearing and has to be yelled at. This leads to a few funny scenes between the two. The rest of the film involves Gene trying to save the ranch for Spud from his arch rival Elliott.
Even Frog is not as silly as usual. There is one hilarious part where Frog shows Spud how he can blow the bugle they found in an army tent. Spud finds a music book for Frog to go by and Smiley starts blowing up a storm. Unintentionally Frog's blowing mobilizes the entire cavalry unit who mount their horses and charge into battle.
See this film if you're looking for a good singing cowboy picture or if you're one of Gene's many fans.