Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Overlooked Movies: Colorado Sundown (1952)

Rex Allen may have been Republic Pictures' second-string singing cowboy behind Roy Rogers in the early Fifties, but I've always enjoyed his movies. The production values were always top-notch as well. Take COLORADO SUNDOWN, a 1952 entry that I've just watched. The director is William Witney, the special effects are by the Lydecker brothers, and there are plenty of great stunts choreographed by stunt coordinator Fred Graham, who also plays one of the bad guys. The movie gets off to a fast start, too, with a musical number, a runaway stage coach, and a murder in the first ten minutes.

The screenplay by Eric Taylor and William Lively is fairly complicated, involving a villainous brother and sister who inherit a ranch and plan to strip it of its timber, causing erosion and flooding that will ruin the other ranchers in the valley. Their scheme goes awry when a couple of unexpected other heirs show up, one of them none other than Slim Pickens, who was usually Rex Allen's sidekick. Rex has come along with his buddy Slim, of course, to make sure that no one takes advantage of him. It doesn't take Rex long to figure out that something crooked is going on, and before you know it, ridin' and shootin' abound, mixed in with at least three brutal fistfights (a Witney trademark) and a flash flood.

Slim Pickens is always fun to watch, the fine character actress Louise Beavers does what she can with a stereotypical role as a maid, and Allen is very likable, as well as an excellent rider and athlete. He was a good singer, too, although not as good as Roy. In fact, when I was a little kid I saw him perform at the Fat Stock Show rodeo in Fort Worth, and I've never forgotten it. (I saw Roy and Dale at the same rodeo a different year. No wonder I grew up to write cowboy stories.)

If you've never seen a Rex Allen movie, you should check out COLORADO SUNDOWN. It's a well-written, well-directed, well-made B-Western, not in the top rank of the genre but certainly worth watching.


Anonymous said...

Although I have the highest regard for Roy Rogers, I like Rex Allen's singing better. I got to see him perform once, heard him speak to an agricultural marketing group and actually spoke to him on one other occasion. At an ag trade show, where he was manning a manufacturer's booth, Rex read my nametag, called me over and asked about subscription information for a farm magazine I represented. I was able to tell him I had just ordered one of his albums, and he exclaimed, "Where did you ever find one?" I mailed him an order form, and he sent me back a thank-you note, writing that he "would now be the best-informed cowboy in Calabasas." Needless to say, I still have that note.

Thomas Miller said...

No mention of Koko, the miracle horse of the movies?