Monday, July 27, 2015

Roy Rogers: My Introduction to The Western Film

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 The Legends of Western Cinema Blog Week starts today! Visit Emma at A Lantern In Her Hand and Olivia at Meanwhile, In Rivendell to find out more about the event and read their posts.

 I saw my first Roy Rogers movie a little over ten years ago. We were driving home from a long family trip and still had a long way to go. My parents bought three DVDs at a store we stopped off at. The first had episodes from The Rifleman, while the second had two Roy Rogers movies (Young Bill Hickok and My Pal Trigger) and third had four episodes of The Roy Rogers Show. Those two DVDs were my introduction to the western genre outside of The Rifleman, Little House on the Prairie, and the Disney Davy Crockett films with Fess Parker. My siblings and I fell in love with Roy Rogers's movies and spent the next several years tracking down every Roy Rogers VHS we could get our hands on at our local book sale. We ended up securing a collection of most of Roy Roger's movies over time and, with online streaming, I have seen a total of 75 of the 105 films on Roy Roger's Wikipedia filmography.

 Roy Rogers was my introduction to the Western film and recently I've been having fun re-watching some of my old favorites, including a few in their uncut theatrical prints instead of the cut television prints. They may be B-Westerns with predictable plots and villains but I still love them dearly. Here are three of my too many to mention favorites.

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Roll On Texas Moon (1946)
 Trouble brews between a community of cattle ranchers and sheep ranchers when a sheep rancher is murdered and found on the property of cattleman Gabby Whittaker (George "Gabby" Hayes). Although Gabby is cleared of murder charges, the tension between the two factions increases. Afraid of a range war breaking out, Roy Rogers is sent to try to find the problem behind the growing troubles and eventually finds an ally in the niece (Dale Evans) of the murdered man, who also wants to stop a range war from erupting. The saga of Gabby and lamb that won't stop following him, much to his consternation, adds a great comedic side plot. | The film is currently available to watch on YouTube here.

Man From Cheyenne (1942)
 Rustlers are plaguing a community of ranches raising cattle for the government and every detective sent has been unsuccessful in tracking the thieves. During a meeting to find a new angle to resolve the problem, however, Roy Rogers stumbles into the picture. The government agent asks Roy, a former member of the community, to return and try his hand at finding the criminals, figuring it would be easier for him instead of a stranger to hunt them out. A good supporting cast of the Sons of the Pioneers, George “Gabby” Hayes, Gale Storm, Sally Paine (always a fun addition to a Roy Rogers movie) and a pair of fairly more complex villains make this one you shouldn’t miss. | Currently available on YouTube here.

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Bells of San Angelo (1947)
 Smugglers are bringing silver illegally into the United States from Mexico and Roy Rogers has been sent to find them and put a stop to it. A man with information is shot before he can speak to Roy and framed by his murderers as a thief when they plant silver on his body. To top off Roy’s troubles, popular Western mystery writer Lee Madison (Dale Evans) comes to town and an Englishman in search of a man called George Wallingford Lancaster arrives, much to the consternation of the sheriff (Andy Devine). | Currently available on YouTube here.

Have you ever seen any of Roy Rogers's films or episodes from his television show? What are some of your favorites?


  1. Gabby and the lamb is one of the best comedy sequences...although my favorite will always be Gabby and the mountain lion in Romance On the Range. :)

    Man From Cheyenne made my list of five favorites too! I still haven't given up hoping that the lost uncut versions of those early ones will turn up someday...

  2. Elisabeth - The first time my younger sister and I watched "Romance On the Range" we nearly died laughing during that whole mountain lion scene. Oh, that's another really good movie. Methinks I need to re-watch it sometime soon.

    I hope more uncut versions of his films surface too! My sisters and I were watching an uncut version of "Rainbow Over Texas" the other day and it made so much more sense in its complete form. For years we'd been scratching our heads over jumps in the story whenever there was something obviously missing.

  3. Great post! My first three introductions to westerns were the Lone Ranger TV show, followed by Roy Rogers, then the Rifleman.

    It is so hard for me to choose a favorite film of Roy's! The first one I ever saw was Under California Stars. If I had to pick a few favorites I do know that among them would be "Lights Of Old Santa Fe", "Roll On Texas Moon", "Bells Of San Angelo", and "Springtime In The Sierras"

    I have seen about half of the films he made. B-westerns are so great! There is a great website about Bob Nolan and The Sons Of The Pioneers that has a page of songs from his films here:
    They are so fun to listen to!

  4. Annie, thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Oooh, "Lights of Old Santa Fe" was another really good one! And that Bob Nolan website is a treasure trove! I discovered it several years back and it is filled with a wealth of information.

  5. I saw "Bells of San Angelo" long ago, but I barely remember it. I just picked up a DVD set of a bunch of Roy's movies recently, but haven't cracked it open yet.

    Is The Roy Rogers Show available on DVD at all? I used to watch it at my grandparents' house during the summer, along with so many other western favorites, but haven't seen it since.

  6. Hamlette - I have seen some DVDs with "The Roy Rogers Show" on Amazon. I've also seen episodes on DVDs with a bunch of episodes from old western TV shows at various bookstores. I'm not sure if the DVDs on Amazon are compiled by season or not.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Thanks! I've have to search around on Amazon for a bit.


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