31 May 2011 | bkoganbing
"Clippety Clopping Along"
Mule Train which must have been rushed into production and distribution to take advantage of Frankie Laine's mega-hit has Gene Autry singing the song and working undercover as a US Marshal. Only sidekick Pat Buttram knows Gene is a marshal.
This film marks a first as the famous Hitchcockian McGuffin is natural cement of which Pat Buttram and his cantankerous old partner John Miljan have on their otherwise pretty worthless property. As water is pretty scarce this stuff is going to come in mighty handy to build a new and solid dam.
I have to say that Miljan was a surprise to me. He usually plays polished and sophisticated villains, seeing him in this part that Gabby Hayes would be perfect casting was a revelation.
Freight Line owner Robert Livingston has a vested interest in trying to get the property. But female sheriff Sheila Ryan seems to be playing an interesting role here. She's a trick shot carnival act who got left behind by her show and is now sheriff. Could things be brewing for Gene and her.
Mule Train with a little better writing could have been a first class western with some major stars. As it is, it's pretty good, far superior to the usual Saturday matinée stuff. Gene was no longer with Republic, I'm guessing Harry Cohn at Columbia was giving him some better and more adult material to work with.
Besides the title song Gene also sings country hit Room Full Of Roses which had a lot of cross over appeal. Dick Haymes and later Dean Martin did successful records of it. Gene warbles it real pretty.
One of Autry's better westerns from Columbia.