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  • "Prairie Moon" is a most unusual sort of Gene Autry film. While it has the standard bad guys who rustle cattle, it also features a trio of young punks which make this a one of a kind western.

    When the story begins, a wanted criminal is killed in a shootout. Gene is there and witnesses his old friend-turned-bad as he dies. With his dying breaths, he asks Gene to be the godfather for his three boys back east. Gene agrees...not realizing these boys are little gangsters at heart!

    In many ways, you can see that this film was influenced by earlier films like "Dead End" and the punk kid films were very popular in the late 30s and through the 40s....though I can't say I ever saw one that was a western! Fun and a great change of pace for Autry.
  • An entry like this is largely a matter of taste. If you enjoy tough-talking delinquents like the East Side Kids (popular at the time), then you might enjoy this Autry oater. The juvenile actors do a convincing job as little toughies that Frog fetches from Chicago to take over their dead dad's ranch before the baddies grab it. But most of the screen time is taken up with their hijinks. As a result, there's not much action and very little gunplay maybe because of the kids. Shirley Deane does make appealing eye candy, while it's good to see the great Tom London picking up another payday. Other than the little waterfall cleverly used in the plot and a few rather blandly delivered tunes, there's not much else to note, unless, of course, you like the kids' brand of comedy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Gene Autry, on the side of good and the law, is always eager to come to the aid of his fellow man. A bad guy on his last leg asks Gene for one last favor; to be guardian of his three boys. Little did Gene know these orphans are actually Chicago street toughs that want little to do with their inheritance of a ranch in the wild west. Gene and his sidekick, Frog Millhouse(Smiley Burnette), try to make the young guys comfortable; only to find that the three trouble makers have become a small part of a cattle rustling scheme. All, of course, will turn out well...but not until Gene croons "The Girl in the Middle of My Heart" to his love interest played by Shirley Deane.

    Credited players include: Tommy Ryan, David Gorcey, Walter Tetley, Stanley Andrews, Jack Rockwell and Ray Bennett.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Copyright 7 October 1938 by Republic Pictures Corp. No recorded New York opening. U.S. release dates: 25 September, 8 October, 19 October 1938. U.K. release through British Lion. Never theatrically released in Australia. 6 reels. 58 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: Three tough city kids are left a ranch when their father dies. Autry is the foreman of the ranch and assumes custody of the budding junior hoodlums. The plot utilizes a background of cattle rustling for Autry to teach the neophyte toughs the difference between right and wrong.

    NOTES: Number 27 of Autry's 94 movies.

    COMMENT: The title has nothing whatever to do with the plot. Dying criminal asks Gene Autry to look after his three boys. The lads, however, fall in with the local cattle rustler... The credit of direction by Ralph Staub doesn't augur any too well (he also directed another Autry vehicle Western Jamboree) though one must admit that the direction here is competent, though the pace is rather slow and Staub is careful not to break into or break up any of the musical numbers including quite a long all-music stretch at the local square dance.

    There are a few running inserts and some tracking shots though many of the angles, even in the action sequences (which include some terrific stunt work and Gene galloping after a runaway carriage, a standard feature of just about all his films) are stationary, or panning shots from fixed camera positions.

    Stanley Andrews does not make a particularly colorful villain, while ace villain William Pawley is restricted to a small and unimportant role as his deputy-stooge. Still, nice to see Tom London and Bud Osborne as a couple of bushwackers and Jack Rockwell as the sheriff.

    The boys are given exaggerated gangster clichés by way of dialogue - probably the scriptwriters were deliberately aiming at parody, but unfortunately the lads under Mr Staub's heavy-handed direction play it perfectly straight. The heroine has but a small and unimportant part - she exists mainly to feed lines to Autry though she also serves as the butt of some of the comedy. In fact, Burnette has a sizable role with much elemental slapstick.

    Production values are better-than-average by "B" western standards, the photography is not as flat as in many of the Autry westerns and there is some lively background music under the location-filled action scenes.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is probably about as close as you'll get to see Gene Autry meet the Bowery Boys. It has that feel as Gene brings three troubled street kids from Chicago out to Big Rock and the Barton Ranch. One of the wise guys is portrayed by Leo Gorcey's younger brother David, who had quite a few appearances in the series of films that started with the Dead End Kids. The trio here get involved with a gang of cattle rustlers headed by Frank Welch (Stanley Andrews), but in the end are saved by the intervention of Gene and partner Smiley Burnette. Most of the story is standard stuff for an Autry oater, except for the bit about his willingness to legally adopt the three teens.

    Gene and Smiley Burnette share singing duties in the story, with quite a few tunes scattered throughout. Appropriate for the topic, Frog Millhouse (Smiley) offers a rendition of 'In the Jailhouse Now', and later chimes in with the musical story of 'Trigger Joe'. One of the Barton Boys probably had it right when he stated "That's what killed vaudeville".

    For an Autry picture I was surprised to hear an off handed Lone Ranger reference when Brains Barton (Tommy Ryan) reacted to Frog by exclaiming 'Hi yo Silver'. Besides that, the other head scratcher had to do with the idea that Jim Barton asked Gene to bring his boys out West. Who then was watching them in Chicago?