24 August 2010 | FirstSoprano
"More than meets the eye"
'Sunset Serenade' is a film of simple and snappy plot, one of Roy's most entertaining films from this period because what there is of it is done so well. Crafty rancher-villain Onslow Stevens, aided by Joan Woodbury, is up to the old land-grab trick, hoping to swindle an infant out of his recently inherited ranch by convincing his innocent guardian Sylvia Clark (Helen Parrish) that it is worthless. Enter a bunch of resourceful (and hungry) wandering cowboys, portrayed by, naturally, Roy Rogers, George 'Gabby' Hayes and the Sons of the Pioneers. They decide to throw in with Sylvia and spend the rest of the film matching wits with the villains in order to hang onto the ranch. The real treat is the full half-dozen songs they perform along the way as only they could - a highlight is the lyrical 'A Sandman Lullaby,' in a nighttime scene that provides, I suppose, the film's title. And then when the player piano gets banged during the free-for-all saloon brawl...well, you can guess what happens next. Only in a Roy Rogers movie! There's also a very funny subplot involving the Pioneers' efforts to keep greedy Gabby from hogging everybody's dinner, which leads to the best laugh of all in the film's final seconds. 'Sunset Serenade' would be an excellent movie to watch as an introduction to the singing cowboy genre; it shows how this type of film works in great style.