DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

SONG OF ARIZONA (director: Frank McDonald; screenwriters: story by Bradford Ropes/M. Coates Webster; cinematographer: Reggie Lanning; editor:  Arthur Roberts; music:  Morton Glickman; cast: Roy Rogers (Himself), George 'Gabby' Hayes (Gabby Whittaker), Dale Evans (Claire Summers), Edmund Cobb (Sheriff J. C. Clark), Johny Calkins (Clarence), Lyle Talbot (King Blaine), Tommy Cook (Chip Blaine), Sarah Edwards (Dolly Finuccin), George Carleton (Lawyer, Thornton), Shug Fisher (Shug, ranch cook), Dick Curtis (Bart), Kid Chissell (Jim, henchman); Runtime: 68; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edward J. White; Mill Creek Entertainment; 1946)

"At least it tries to be fresher than the typical B-Westestern by trying a few wrinkles in the familiar plot line."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Frank McDonald ("Border City Rustlers"/"Thunder Pass"/"Son of Belle Starr") directs the Western as if it were a version of Boys Town. The laborious musical Western is based on the story by Bradford Ropes and is written by M. Coates Webster. At least it tries to be fresher than the typical B-Western by trying a few wrinkles in the familiar plot line.

In Lodestone, Arizona, good-hearted rancher Gabby Whittaker (Gabby Hayes) runs on his property a home for orphans and wayward boys, called the Half A Chance. The local stuffy banker, Dolly Finuccin (Sarah Edwards), warns Gabby that if he can't pay back his loan of $25,000 in one week the bank will foreclose on the ranch. Famous radio singing cowboy Roy Rogers, an orphan and alum of the ranch, offers to help.

Meanwhile bank robber and guard killer King Blaine (Lyle Talbot) visits his son Chip (Tommy Cook) at the ranch and is followed there by the sheriff (Edmund Cobb) and his posse. In a nearby ranch, the posse kills King while his gang escapes. But before he dies, King leaves a note with Gabby to give to Chip (which tells him to keep the stolen bank money he sent to Chipthat he hid for him in Gabby's barn) and leaves Gabby a garage he owns in Kansas City to help pay back the loan. King also asks Gabby to contact his KC living nightclub singer estranged step-daughter Claire Summers (Dale Evans), and urges her to reunite with Chip.

Roy goes in Gabby's place, and the lawyer (George Carleton) in KC tells him the garage burned down and had no fire insurance. Back in the ranch, Claire arrives and is romanced with song by Rogers. Danger lurks when King's meanie partners, Bart (Dick Curtis) and Jim (Kid Chissell), trick Chip into meeting them at night in an abandoned nearby ranch and try to force the kid into telling them where he hid the stolen money. Chip gets free when the sheriff's men and Roy get into a shoot-out, after Gabby is winged by the bank robbers.

Chip, wanting to repay Gabby for his kindness, pays back the loan with the stolen money and signs Gabby's name to the note. When Dolly discovers the money is the same stolen money from the robbery, she confronts the startled Gabby at his ranch during a Halloween party for the kids (where Dale and Roy wonderfully sing and dance to "Mr. Spook Steps Out"). Chip then confesses to paying the loan with the dirty money and hands over to the bank all the stolen money he hid for pop. But, if you can believe such lazy writing, the gang returns and steals the money. The sheriff, posse and Roy ride after them and retrieve the money and capture the gang. As a result, Dolly tears up the loan note as a reward for returning the stolen money and the world still has the Half A Chance school and home for homeless boys.

REVIEWED ON 8/27/2013       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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