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  • 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.
  • Boots and Saddles finds Gene Autry the foreman of a ranch that is inherited by young Ronald Sinclair, the Earl of Granville. His father owned the ranch and passed away and the son comes over from the United Kingdom. A lot of British folks came over and did buy property in the American west, the most known probably is Henry Tunstall, patron of Billy the Kid and who got killed in the Lincoln County War.

    Anyway the young Earl under Gene's tutelage becomes a real cowboy, but the ranch has problems until Gene comes up with an idea to break and sell horses to the cavalry. Unfortunately Gordon Elliott also has the same idea and he's pretty ruthless about getting what he wants. Yes, that's the same Gordon Elliott who later became Wild Bill Elliott, a cowboy hero of no mean proportion later on.

    Judith Allen plays the colonel's daughter and some of the romantic capers that she and Autry engage in is very similar to what later went on with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Smiley Burnette is around also for laughs because he certainly doesn't help Autry too much. He has some funny moments when he almost gets enlisted in the army after trying to locate Gene on the army post.

    Gene has some good songs to sing, topped off by the cowboy standard Take Me Back to my Boots and Saddles. He also sang a song called The One Rose which was a Hawaiian number oddly enough and a million selling record for Bing Crosby the year before. Crosby also recorded the title song and another version of it in my collection is by concert baritone John Charles Thomas.

    Boots and Saddles is one of the better Autry westerns that Republic put out and it still is enjoyable.
  • Superior mix of the usual Autry staples. Gene's out to save English boy's ranch by selling ranch horses to the army. Of course, there are baddies trying to get the army contract by using dishonest tactics. Also along the way is the expected blend of humor, romance and song all piloted by old studio pro Joe Kane

    In my book, Gene's best movies were with Republic, which specialized in matinée westerns. Here, the studio popped for scenic Lone Pine locations and a ton of army extras, along with an above average script. The comedy set-ups are particularly inventive, genuinely amusing without being silly. I did notice one trip-wire scene—too bad they weren't abolished sooner. Anyway, a youthful Gene is at his peak, nicely complemented by a winsome Judith Allen and a surprisingly agile Frog Millhouse. Fans of gunplay will be disappointed since there's very little. However, the climactic horse race supplies a lot of acrobatic action. All in all, the film's a really entertaining blend, among Autry's best.
  • Can Gene and Frog save the ranch for Spud, well played by child actor Ronald Sinclair? Of course Wild Bill Elliot gives the boys more than they can handle. As does gorgeous Judith Allen with Guy Usher as Colonel Allen brilliantly setting the land mines along the way. Also great acting by John Ward as Henry 'Windy' Wyndham, the boy's solicitor from England. Frog sets the stage and action from the get go telling Gene "we promised Old Spud we'd make a real westerner out of him". A great cast and story line make Boots and Saddles a singing cowboy spectacular.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Gene Autry takes a young English aristocrat under his wing, Edward the Earl of Granby, and quickly nicknames him 'Spud' after the boy's father. Starting out one gets the impression that Spud will use his nobility to be a royal pain, but he soon warms up to Gene and his sidekick Frog (Smiley Burnette) after Gene saves him from a runaway bronco. The Earl has arrived out West with the intention of selling the working ranch that he's inherited, but changes his mind when he takes a liking to Gene's plan to round up range horses and train them for the military.

    The film's villain Jim Neale has other plans though, he would like to get his hands on Spud's ranch to expand his own operation. Neale is portrayed by a mustachioed and smarmy looking Gordon Elliott, soon before he came to be known as Wild Bill and a cowboy hero in his own right. The showdown occurs when Army Colonel Allen (Guy Usher) agrees to a race between Gene's white hats against Neale's black hats, with the winner to be awarded the military contract. The Colonel's daughter (Judith Allen) is the film's romantic interest, and tries to have some fun getting even with Gene for an earlier encounter.

    There's a neat scene when two of Neale's henchmen take off after Gene on horseback; Gene leaps up to break off a tree limb and uses it to trip up both men's horses. I'd really be curious as to how they managed to film that, as both horses took a heavy spill to dismount their riders.

    Smiley Burnette manages to take center stage a number of times in the story, getting caught up in a marching drill, and launching a military charge as he runs through a medley of trumpet solos. Later he gets to ham it up in a bicycle race with one of the baddies after they lose their mounts in the horse race.

    As expected, Gene Autry saves the day for Spud and his ranch by crossing the finish line just ahead of bad guy Neale. The film ends as it began, with Gene crooning a tune, this time with the pretty Miss Allen riding by his side.
  • As part of my western-watching project, I wanted to watch some B-westerns, including one with the original singing-cowboy, Gene Autry. B-westerns were usually around an hour long, or less, and they were projected in theaters as the first part of a double feature, preceding some A-movie. Normally they were not sophisticated stories and looked to please younger viewers.

    So, what I found in this one is quite pleasant fluff. Less than an hour long, and featuring several songs and comedy routines, the plot is straightforward and direct. The young English lord arrives dressed like Lord Fauntleroy and despite some initial snottiness quickly turns out to be a nice kid. The foreman (Gene Autry) doesn't have to work much to turn him into a "real Westerner", as he promised the boy's father he'd do. Soon Autry and the youngster are involved in a plan to avoid having to sell the property by turning it into a horse ranch and supplying the army. They have the inept help of the foreman's comic relief sidekick (Smiley Burnette, who is actually better at singing than at comedy... seriously, his was the best song of the movie).

    So there's several songs, including some nice country yodeling by Autry, comedy, the unavoidable romance for Autry and a plot involving a rival horse breeder out to sabotage them and win the contract with the army, culminating in a horse race to prove to the officer in charge of supplies whose are the best horses. You can't ask for more in less than an hour.

    The comedy is only occasionally funny and the plot is simplistic, but the movie does feature some impressive scenery and skillful horse stunts.

    So, not at all a great movie, but I'd say this one accomplishes quite well what it sets out to do as a B-western.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Included as an extra on the 2nd disc of the 2-disc VCI "Phantom Empire", "Boots and Saddles" is a 53-minute B-western that is apparently typical of Autry's work after the serial for the 18 years (1935-1953) that he was a regular film actor. Autry made dozens and dozens of these short features, playing himself typically and working through plots that were probably hackneyed even then.

    Gene's the foreman of a ranch named - you guessed it - Gene Autry, who happens to be - are you shocked? - just as good with a guitar and yodel as with a horse and sixgun. The ranch's owner has died and his spoiled English-raised bratty adolescent kid has come to take over, and plans to sell it. After a ride on the range with Gene though the boy changes his mind, thus putting a snag in the plans of the villain of the piece, Jim Neill (Bill Elliott) who wanted to raise horses to sell to the army. Gene decides to do the same thing himself and also runs afoul of the army colonel (Guy Usher) in charge of buying horses, and his lovely daughter (Judith Allen) who of course gets some romancin'. Some decent riding sequences, a couple of very brief and bloodless gunfights, Smiley Burnett on hand for some slapstick, and lots of songs. It moves along nicely and is competently put together, but if this in fact is one of the better Autry westerns, I probably won't be seeking out a lot of the other 90 or so out there....
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is neither one of Gene's best, nor his worst. Instead of the non stop action in other kinds of westerns, in many of his movies we get the gentle Gene in well edited and scripted development of story, character, music and comedy. This one fits this Republic formula well, but one wishes it were a little more exciting.

    Here Gene is a ranch foreman who wants to sell horses to the military. The first half is all about horses. Horses, horses, horses in the wonderful outdoor setting of the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, California.

    Smiley Burnette is not just a side kick, but a de facto co-star in many of his pictures with Gene-- he usually sings a solo (one of his own songs), and gets to do two or three comic relief bits. These scenes seem to be filling in for the fact that Gene is not an athletic fist fighting, gun shooting action actor. You can see how gingerly he dismounts Champion and carefully looks for his landing spot at the Lone Hills train station. So "Frog" gets almost as much screen time as Gene does.

    We have "Wild Bill" Elliot (here as Gordon Elliot) as the villain. He's got that deep, tough, look and voice that makes him good either as a hero or a villain (like Humphrey Bogart or Lash La Rue). Unfortunately, the good guy / bad guy relationship is not the core of the film, and gets short shrift at the expense of Frog's comedy scenes, and the better developed love story.

    Gene is really a singer, and we get six songs, four from him. Many westerns used a popular song in the title as built in recognition / promotion for the films themselves. Here we have 'Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddles' (1935) sung during the opening titles and at the end. Also noteworthy is 'Riding the Trail' by Gene in an almost music video edited production, with him singing, in a slightly resigned tone about how he'll be riding the trail 'the rest of his life.'

    You'll probably stay awake during the entire movie; it's pretty well put together and edited, even if it doesn't rise above its formulaic and workmanlike construction. I'll give it a four.
  • When the story begins, the new owner of the ranch arrives out west. Apparently, some spoiled rich kid named 'Spud' inherited the place. Now this is the odd part....he arrives out west dressed in a top hat....looking for all the world like a Charlie McCarthy puppet! I know the kid is supposed to be rich, but who would show up dressed like THAT?!

    Spud initially just wants to sell the place. However, he soon becomes friends with Gene and he agrees to sell him the ranch. But another bidder also wants it, so it's up to Gene and his competition to have a race to decide who gets the place....an odd way to decide things, I know. And, considering that the hero ALWAYS has an unscrupulous nemesis, you can only assume this other guy will stop at NOTHING to get the land! In between, there's time to romance the Colonel's daughter, for Smiley to somehow find himself in the Army and much more.

    It's not surprising that Smiley Burnette is on hand to play Gene's sidekick, as he made a ton of pics with Autry. And, as usual, he sings and uses his froggy voice in a humorous tune. After all, why have Smiley in a film without a song?

    I noticed one reviewer compared this movie to a Gene Autry flick meets "Little Lord Fauntleroy"...and that is pretty much on the mark, though the kid warms up to Gene MUCH faster than the grandfather in "Fauntleroy".

    So is all this worth watching? Well, if you like Gene Autry films, you'll no doubt enjoy this. As usual, he sings a bunch of tunes and ends up being a paragon of virtue and niceness. Typical...but also typically enjoyable and well worth your time.