6 May 2006 | krorie
One of Gene's best, both in action and in music
Gene gets to sing three of his best songs, including one he wrote, in the action-packed "Mexicali Rose." Gene had sung "Mexicali Rose," the title song, in an earlier picture, "Rootin' Tootin' Rhythm," even singing it in Spanish. The song was so popular that he and his producers decided to do a film around the title. This time the title actually fits the story which takes place in Mexico. Gene croons another fitting piece, "El Rancho Grande." He also sings one of the best songs he ever wrote, "You're The Only Star In My Blue Heaven." When he appeared on the Nashville Channel back in the 1980's, he told the TV audience that one of his lady fans had written him a letter expressing her fondness for his movies. She ended the letter by telling Gene, "You're the only star in my blue heaven." That expression stuck in his mind leading to the song he wrote with the same title.
Frog, one of the best musicians around, gets to sing one song. He was sort of like the later rock performer, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, in that he could sing like a girl and he could sing like a frog. Smiley does both in "Mexicali Rose."
The story involves a fake oil company using Gene and Frog as radio entertainers promoting the sell of stock in the enterprise. Gene and Frog devoted their talents thinking the money raised was going to help orphans in a mission run by Padre Dominic (William Farnum) and a pretty senorita, Anita Loredo (Luana Walters), the Mexicali Rose of the title. When Anita convinces Gene that the oil company is a sham to steal money from the orphans, Gene and Frog leave the radio station to investigate the allegations. A third party gets involved when Gene and Frog are confronted by Mexican bandits headed by an hombre named Valdez (Noah Beery), not unlike Pancho Villa, a good outlaw or Robin Hood as Valdez comes to visualize himself. Valdez is after Gene's horse, Champion. Gene and Champion are saved when Valdez discovers that Gene is the singing cowboy he has come to idolize. All join forces against the crooks led by a swindler named Carruthers (William Royle). Gene and his pals concoct a plan to make Carruthers and his gang think that there is really oil on the mission land. The plan almost backfires when real oil is discovered.
"Mexicali Rose" starts with a bang. Gene and Frog are hellbent for leather. Skilled camera work shows Gene and Frog galloping full speed down the trail heading for the radio station to get there on time. The film continues fast-paced to the end.
An added bonus for the viewer is the appearance of Roy Barcroft as McElroy, one of the scam artists. Barcroft was just beginning his long movie career as the super bad guy of the B western. He usually dressed in a suit and held a position of respectability but turned out to be the orneriest snake in the show. He is not the boss heavy in "Mexicali Rose," but does have a few good scenes.