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  • Unlike his friendly rivals Hoppy and Gene whose movies usually dealt with Hollywood cowboy fantasy, Roy Rogers films sometimes mixed fact with fiction. Two of his best early movies were "Billy the Kid Returns," where Roy played the Kid, and "Days of Jesse James," where Don "Red" Barry played Jesse. In "Nevada City," the real stagecoach bandit Black Bart is featured, played by Fred Kohler Jr. The outlaw Black Bart was noted for his poetry, a sample of which he would leave when he robbed a stage. He would sign his poem "the Po8." In "Nevada City," an example of Black Bart's poetry is read aloud by Roy. He robbed coaches laden with gold from the area around Sacramento, California, during the Gold Rush. The movie story takes place in California which is true to the facts surrounding the infamous outlaw. Besides this, the rest in the movie is Hollywood.

    The comedy in the film is supplied by Gabby Hayes, who has come to personify the movie cowboy sidekick. Gabby has some funny lines in this oater. The jail scene is hilarious. Roy and Gabby have been locked up for allegedly aiding and abetting Black Bart. A supposed drunk is placed in the cell with them. The drunk does a typical inebriated routine. He takes out a rope and asks Gabby if he knows any tricks. Gabby has a clever comeback, "How do you think we got in here to start with?" Using the rope, Gabby tries to lasso the jail door keys hanging on the wall. He makes several unsuccessful attempts then makes the rye comment, "This is like trying to rope a mo-skeeter on a dark night." The fun continues.

    This Roy Rogers outing is all action. Not long after this film, Roy turned more and more to his singing (he had helped start the legendary Sons of the Pioneers) until many of his films became musical extravaganzas, not unlike Broadway shows of the day. So enjoy this fast-paced Roy Rogers oater to see why he came to be called "The King of The Cowboys."
  • There is plenty of action in this Roy Rogers feature, and while "Nevada City" is probably a cut below his best features, it still works fine as light entertainment. Rogers and Gabby Hayes play basically their standard characters, and as usual they work pretty well together. The story is fairly involved, with Roy playing a stagecoach driver who gets caught in the middle of a dispute between the stage line and a railroad, with a mysterious bandit also included. The plot this time is rather full of holes, but it does set up plenty of chases and other action scenes, and there is always plenty going on to hold your attention.
  • Another western feud is at the core of the plot of Nevada City. This time it's the stagecoach line of George Cleveland versus the railroad of Joseph Crehan. But Roy Rogers who drives a stagecoach for Cleveland and his partners brother and sister Sally Payne and Billy Lee isn't convinced that the railroad is behind the troubles the stage line has recently been having. In fact on further investigation he discovers that the infamous Black Bart has been terrorizing the railroad as well.

    Nevada City has a minimum of songs by Roy, the emphasis is definitely on action and discovering who Black Bart is and who's behind him. The poetry writing bandit who liked to leave whimsical verse wherever he did a crime is played here by Fred Kohler, Jr. and of course this is not the real story of Black Bart. But that was a common trend with B westerns back in the day including Roy Rogers films, to take some real western figure and create a wholly fictional story around them.

    In fact for a while there I was wondering if Trigger would make an appearance. With Roy first driving a stagecoach and then learning how to operate a steam locomotive, Trigger does not make an appearance until halfway through the film. Which must have left his fans in a state of panic back in 1941.

    Gabby Hayes is in this film as well and it has just about everything that a good Roy Rogers B western should have. Except Dale Evans, that was in the future.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Jeff Connor (Roy Rogers) and Gabby Chapman (Gabby Hayes) find themselves in the middle of a three way competition between a stagecoach line, a railroad company and a third party Sacramento Navigation Co. in this rather well done Republic Film from 1941. This was still the pre Dale Evans era for Roy, so the female lead duties were handled by Sally Payne as Jo Morrison, part owner of the Morrison-Liddell Stage Company. Roy and Gabby smell a polecat when both the stage line and the railroad wind up at odds with each other, figuring that outlaw Black Bart (Fred Kohler Jr.) is behind the attacks on both, while in league with shady businessman Amos Norton (Pierre Watkin).

    The best lines in the film go to Gabby, hands down, who also shows some fancy hand work twirling his six gun, going by the name of Roarin' Liza. Roy tries out his singing voice with "Stars Over the Prairie", throwing in a verse penned by villain Black Bart. It was a poetry gimmick that led to Bart's undoing, a clue that the crafty Jeff Connor used to smoke out the bandit who used the alter ego of Jim Trevor.

    Sally Payne's character, pretty but tomboyish, spent most of the film trying to romance Connor, going back and forth between buckskins and a party dress. Her younger brother Chick (Billy Lee) was the one to discover the Trevor/Black Bart connection, putting the good guys in the right direction. Sally teamed up with Roy Rogers in a dozen 'B' Westerns, virtually all between 1940 and 1942. Prior to Sally, Roy's female lead in the late 1930's was Lynne Roberts, who also used the name Mary Hart.

    When you see Roy later in the film navigating his way atop the cars of a moving train, be sure to credit Yakima Canutt for the stunt work. He also appears briefly as a stagecoach driver.

    "Nevada City" has a pretty good mix of action, gunfights, and humor, with Roy and Gabby complementing each other nicely as a good guy tandem. Roy and Sally do hook up at the end of the story, tying up that plot line as well. A similar theme involving a three way competition for a postal route contract would be used some dozen years later in a 1953 Western called "Iron Mountain Trail", starring Rex Allen. It shouldn't come as a surprise that it too was a Republic Picture.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    By far, my favorite Roy Rogers film, thus far! The plot is different, involving the inevitable replacement of many stage lines by railroads, especially for long distance freight, mail and passenger traffic. But, as railroad owner Mark Benton(Joseph Creham) points out, railroads don't want stagecoaches and freight wagons to totally disappear. They can function, in many cases, to bring goods, mail, and people to and from railroads, and to carry short hauls. The involvement of a steamboat company, owned by Amos Norton((Pierce Watkin) in trying to bankrupt both the fledgling railroad and the stage line so that it can muscle in with its own railroad is a further complication. The latter is using the infamous highwayman Black Bart to try to convince the railroad and the stage line that the other is behind the sabotage.........A number of charismatic actors, besides Roy and Gabby Hayes are present. There is the venerable cantankerous owner of the stage line, George Cleveland. Then, there is 12 y.o. Billy Lee, who pops up every now and then, as Chick Morrison. Occasionally he does something important. His older sister, Jo, is played by the usually interesting Sally Payne, who appeared in a number of other Roger's films of this era. Not here, but often, she was scripted as Gabby's daughter or niece. Usually, she was just a helpful tomboy and sometimes singer, playing second fiddle to the leading lady, who becomes Roy's girlfriend. But here, she actually becomes Roy's girlfriend, after much discouragement. Here she wears buckskins and sometimes drives a stage, much reminding me of Doris Day, in the 50s hit "Calamity Jane". She complains that Roy doesn't treat her like a girlfriend. Gabby suggests she should sometimes put on a nice dress, and some perfume, so that she came across as a woman, rather than a man. It worked for Doris. She tries that, but when she showed up in such, she asked if Roy didn't notice something different about her. He suggested she looked a little pale. What a put down! But, Roy comes around at the end........ In one scene she is put out with Roy, so accepts an offer from suave Jim Trevor. Later, Roy finds out that he wrote a poem about Sally, which peaks his interest. So, when Trevor plays the piano and Roy sings, Roy adds some lines from a Black Bart holdup poem, and notices Trevor's worried look. Roy is sure he has found the alter ego of Black Bart.......There's an exciting climax near the end where Black Bart and gang try to blow up a railroad tunnel, using the many barrels of gunpowder carried in one car. Fingernail biting time!........One thing I am disappointed in: the characterization of Black Bart as a ruthless highwayman gang leader, who always left a poem at the scene of the crime. Nothing could be further from the historical Black Bart: a horrible label for such a gentlemanly robber. He was afraid of horses. Thus, he always worked on foot, alone, jumping out in front of the horses, face hidden by a bandana, and brandishing a shotgun. But, he never had to use the shotgun. In fact, it appears that he never loaded it! He was invariably polite during his 28 robberies, with no foul language. He left a poem at the scene of the crime on only 2 robberies, which was magnified by the press as a routine part of his robberies. He spent 4 years in prison after his last robbery, caught by a laundry mark on a handkerchief he dropped. After prison, he soon disappeared from history, vowing never to commit another crime........See it at YouTube.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In the 1950s, the rights to a bazillion Roy Rogers movies were sold to television. However, as most of his films were about 65 minutes long, this didn't fit TV time slots. So, to make the films more marketable, they literally chopped the films down to about 50 minutes (more or less). Sometimes this made the movies confusing and stupid---but in the case of "Nevada City" I actually think it improved it! That's because I am NOT a fan of singing in westerns--and Roy breaking into song never made any sense. However, in this truncated version, he NEVER sings. It's funny, because in one case Roy tells Gabby that he's about to sing and then....nothing! The film also benefited from a trimming because the plot was more compact and to the point. The film is also a bit different from the usual Rogers film. The movie begins with a prologue explaining how the railroad and stage coach owners hated each other. Then, you learn that a bunch of robberies of the stage had been occurring and the stage operators assume that the dreaded railroaders were behind it. When Roy, who works for the stage, talks with the evil railroad operator, he sees he's a swell guy and encourages his boss to make up and become friends with them. But, the butt-head boss fires Roy and Gabby and they look for work with the railroad. In the meantime, a greasy guy is making advances on Roy's girl. Could he have something to do with the robberies and the dreaded 'Black Bart'? Quick and without the usual Rogers nonsense, this one is enjoyable and unusual enough to merit giving it a look. Just try to see the 53 minute version unless you like songs for absolutely no conceivable reason!