5 September 2010 | bkoganbing
Gene Autry, Son Of Ming The Merciless
Although in the film Gene Autry is from the town of Pine Ridge and gets to sing quite a few numbers, I don't believe I heard a single yodel come from him in the Yodelin' Kid From Pine Ridge. He was not a yodeler, unlike his main singing cowboy rival who would soon be making his first starring western Roy Rogers. Now he yodeled in just about every film he made.
In Yodelin' Kid From Pine Ridge, Gene is cast as Gene Autry Jr., a sensitive young man who is devoted to the cattle business, but does not like to see the violence developing between the cattlemen and a group of turpentiners who are from the hills. These transplanted hillbillies headed by Russell Simpson like the pine forests because they strip the bark off the pine trees and make turpentine to sell.
The cattlemen however want more grass acreage for the cattle to graze and want to burn down the forest. And they don't like the hillbillies just taking cattle whenever they need a meal. Cattlemen LeRoy Mason and Charles Middleton want to lead the effort to burn the forest. And Middleton is Gene Autry, Sr. Talk about exotic casting, Gene Autry as the son of Ming The Merciless.
Anyway Gene is banished from the councils of the cattlemen and joins a Wild West show and many years go by before he returns to Pine Ridge and only as part of the Wild West show. But he's back involved as soon as he returns. Part of the reason of his involvement is Russell Simpson's stepdaughter, former silent screen star Betty Bronson.
In the 54 minute running time a lot of singing and riding gets mixed in with a lot of gunplay as Gene finally gets to the bottom of the feud between the cattlemen and turpentiners. Not much suspense as it is revealed pretty early in the film, but I won't reveal it.
Smiley Burnette plays the head of the Wild West Show, not the usual sidekick part with Gene. He's still getting a lot of laughs, but you will not hear one frog croak which was part of his screen persona.
For fans of the great singing cowboy tycoon, Yodelin' Kid From Pine Ridge should please them.