28 January 2015 | dougdoepke
Gene Tangles With Barbed Wire
Well-done Autry oater, longer than usual (70-min.). I guess I'd never thought about a homely item like barbed wire and its significance before now. Thanks to the movie, however, I know a lot more, and have a greater appreciation. Plot-wise, Gene has to prove the wire's worth to ranchers despite land grabbers who want to sabotage its effectiveness. There's a great scenic climax with more sweep and manpower than usual, along with a lot of hard riding. Those Sierra vistas in the background are majestic as heck, while the guys thread through the rock spires of the familiar Alabama Hills.
Too bad Gene sings only snatches of some classic western tunes. I could have used more of "Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie". No comedy sidekick here, though Buddy Burroughs (Duke) carries the youth angle. I do, however, wonder whether using the towering Tarzan (Mahoney) as a two-fisted foil for Autry was a good idea. Gene may be a heckuva stunt man, but visually Mahoney's got a big edge. And catch the spunky Gail Davis. Unlike most leading ladies, she looks like she belongs outdoors. Speaking of outdoors, these oaters give a geezer like me a chance to get back out in the Big-Open, if only vicariously. I guess you can take the kid out of the matinée, but you can't take the matinée out of the kid.
Anyhow, an "8" on the matinée scale.