2 October 2007 | dougdoepke
A Last Ride
Good, strong story line lifts this final Autry programmer above the usual. Just as in real life, Gene sees a good business opportunity where others don't-- in the movie it's stage-line mail delivery replacing the older, more limited pony express. But he can't convince his pony express employer to partner up in starting a stage-line. Still, Gene's a loyal cuss, and can't bring himself to ignore the express when bad guy rivals try to sabotage his former boss. There are more plot complications and character conflict than usual, probably reflecting a need to break away from old formulas.
Dick Jones makes an energetic express rider, even getting to passion-kiss Elizabeth Taylor look-alike Kathleen Case. Of course, by this time Gene's nearly 50 and looking understandably middle-aged, so the kids carry much of the plot. Two of the highlights-- the bucking bronco scene is very well done, while Gene's little singing duet with Burnette comes across as a delightfully fitting farewell to a memorable movie partnership.Also, I was kind of hoping that Gene, who started out as a telegrapher, would get a last scene working the telegraph. But maybe he didn't know his role here would be his final feature (the TV series ended in 1955). Anyway, this is not only an entertaining 60 minutes, but also an interesting and informative one as well. A quality final note for a much beloved performer and cowboy icon.