Ride, Ranger, Ride (1936)
“Rip-Roarin’…Hard-Ridin’…Texas Rangers…singin’…fightin’…galloping to glory in the greatest saga of their famous history!”
Director: Joseph Kane
Cast: Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Kay Hughes
Synopsis: Gene is a Texas Ranger working under cover to protect an Army wagon train full of ammunition and supplies. The Army doesn’t believe him at first, until the Commanches arrive.
Gene Autry’s a Texas Ranger in Ride Ranger Ride, and he plays the part with the assurance of an actor who has settled into a comfortable routine. This was, after all, the eleventh time he’d played himself in just two years, so it’s hardly surprising that he looks right at home. Making a movie for Autry must have been like just another day at the office for the rest of us, but he somehow managed to retain that personable side to his character, and made a likeable, if unambitious, leading man.
Autry (Oh, Susanna!) has a band of fellow Rangers following him who are so loyal that when he reveals to them that he’s been offered a position as an officer in the US Cavalry they all decide to enlist with him. Life in the US army isn’t as rewarding as Autry and his men expected, however, despite the luminous presence of Dixie Summeral (Kay Hughes), the Colonel’s daughter. The US Government is following a strategy of appeasement with the local Red Indians and are seeking to sign a peace treaty with them. Of course, Autry and his men are confident in their knowledge that all Indians are murdering savages who will double-cross any white man who crosses their path, and waste no time in informing Colonel Summeral (Robert Homans — Abraham Lincoln, The Thin Man) of the fact. But Summeral refuses to listen, and Autry is invited to resign after being suckered into a barroom fight with the sidekick of local businessman Duval (Monte Blue — The Birth of a Nation, Prison Shadows) who is in league with those duplicitous Red Indians and plans to use their manpower to hijack a shipment of arms on its way to the Cavalry outpost.
Ride Ranger Ride makes for mildly diverting entertainment. It features all the usual ingredients of a Gene Autry movie — there’s a couple of songs, a little love interest, sporadic action (including a well-mounted attack on a wagon train by marauding Indians) and not one but two comedy sidekicks in the shape of Smiley Burnette (Oh, Susanna!) and Max Terhune (Rawhide). There’s a running joke involving a ‘harmless’ Red Indian who wins Burnette’s scalp in a wager he had with Terhune and chases the hapless Burnette all over the place with his knife in hand, much to the amusement of everyone involved. As a joke it’s not particularly funny, but it’s strangely in keeping with the kind of movie which preaches that the only good Indian is a dead one.
(Reviewed 18th April 2014)