10 October 2013 | MartinHafer
Pretty good--and a first.
Like so many Roy Rogers films, this one is abbreviated to fit the TV time slot. Originally it ran 58 minutes but someone lopped 5 minutes off the print. Considering that his films usually had quite a few songs, I assume one or two of them were removed to make the running time only 53 minutes.
"Southward Ho" is a monumental film in that it paired Roy Rogers and Gabby Hayes for the first time--something Republic Studio would end up doing many, many more times. Fortunately, it's also a pretty good film.
When the film begins, Roy and Gabby are in the Confederate Army and trying to steal food. However, Gabby is able to not only get the food but capture the Union Colonel--though, inexplicably, he just lets the guy go free. He just wanted the food. Yes, this made no sense whatsoever--he SHOULD have shot the man or taken him prisoner.
Time passes. The war is now complete and Gabby has just been willed half interest in a ranch in Texas. And, guess who his new partner will be--the Colonel! However, this isn't the least of the problems, as the Colonel has been placed in charge of the Reconstruction in Texas but he doesn't realize the troops who have come to assist him are all deserters and cut-throats. His goal is to be a reasonable trustee of the country--theirs is to bleed everyone dry of everything they own! How does all this work out--see the film yourself! While often Rogers films promoted the 'Reconstruction myth' that the Yankees were all evil and the Southerners all victims, this one takes a novel new approach. This in addition to some dandy action and plot make this a decent film--one even non-fans can enjoy. Not among Rogers' best but certainly a decent outing for the cowboy.