UTAH. 1945

Director: John English

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Dorothy (Dale Evans) lives in Chicago & is part of a Deep South style musicial & dance review, singing songs like "Swanee River" When the show loses its backer & closes down, she decides to find a new backing "out west" at the Bar-X Ranche, in the film & the state of Utah (1945).

The Bar-X is run by Roy & Gabby (Roy Rogers & George "Gabby" Hayes). It was owned by Dorothy's late grandfather, & Roy & Gabby have been faithfully sending her money every month for her life in Chicago. Now she's gotten it in her mind to sell the ranch to raise funds for the musical.

She shows up along with all her showgirl pals (among whom is Beverly Lloyd as Wanda, Bob's love interest Wanda, & Roy takes her to stay in a run-down cabin on scrubland, to discourage her from selling it since it doesn't look like it's worth much, & hoping she'll just return to Chicago simply amazed & full of gratitude that the ranchhands manage to squeeze out a monthly stipend for her.

UtahFar from running back to Chicago in a hurry-scurry, they decide to stay & rough it. This is actually Gabby's cabin & he's quite cranky to have girls cleaning it up.

Roy realizes what a crooked butthead he is not to show her the real ranch. So he plans to "surprise" her the next morning with how beautiful & valuable her land & ranchhouse & herds really are.

Seeing how the girls took to even a run-down cabin, Roy, Gabby & the hands they (i.e., Bob Nolan & the Sons of the Pioneers), they now expect Dorothy will fall in love with the Bar-X & never again consider selling it.

I thought Roy's role was written a mite too dishonest in this film, & he should've been forthcoming with her from day one. And as it turns out, his lapse into sly trickery caused more trouble than was necessary.

Ben Bowman (Grant Withers), a crooked investor who sees his chance to buy the best ranch in the valley for a pittance, offers Dorothy a scant $5,000 dollars for land worth a hundred thousand. He'll turn around & sell it for full value to a sheepfarmer, which in these old films is tantamount to selling land to the devil, sheep are so little liked by cattlemen. (An unjust historical prejudice that probably shouldn't've been upheld in B westerns but often was.)

Dorothy had intended to keep even the rotten bit of the valley she'd thus far seen, but having begun to fall in love with Roy then becoming mistakenly convinced he was just a womanizer trying to fool her about something, she decides to sell & get away before she is any more heartbroken. Still thinking the Bar-X is only Gabby's cabin & scrubland, she signs the contract before Roy gets the chance to tell the truth & show her what she really owned.

It's up to Roy to figure out a way to fix what his own mischievous bad behavior has gotten all mucked up. Along the way, that smart horse Trigger saves Gabby from a beating, but isn't otherwise much in the story. Eventually Roy does sort out everything to the better, & in the end we're treated to a couple of song & dance numbers on the Chicago stage starring Roy & Dorothy, but it's no longer a southern-style production, it's a western swing hootenanny.

Roy & Dale are physicially beautiful people & talented as all getty-up. The few songs for this adventure are passable. It's not one of their better films & can even look bad compared to something average with Gene Autry. But if you've already fallen in love with Roy & Dale from seeing them in their better pictures, this one will be pleasing for their delightful presence.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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