Rhythm on the Range (1936) Poster

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Bing's Home On The Range.
bkoganbing30 June 2004
Another source of recording material for Bing Crosby were western songs. He recorded a good many of them in his career. About the time Rhythm on the Range was being made the singing cowboy was just getting started as a movie staple. When Bing's 78s were being compiled into vinyl albums in the 1950s he had recorded enough for several albums. Lots of the songs of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers are in the Crosby catalog in fact a young Roy Rogers can be spotted in the I'm An Old Cowhand number.

Runaway heiresses were another movie staple especially in the 1930s and that's Frances Farmer's part. She's running away from a marriage she's not terribly thrilled about and stowing away on a freight boxcar she finds Bing Crosby who unbeknownst to her works as a ranchhand on her aunt's Frying Pan Ranch out in Arizona. Bing is nursemaiding a bull named Cuddles and Bing, Frances and Cuddles make their way west with several adventures. Trailing them are a trio of hoboes played very well by James Burke, Warren Hymer, and George E. Stone who have found out who Frances is and are looking to make a quick buck. Their machinations go for naught of course.

In Frances Farmer's book, Will There Ever Be A Morning, she describes a not very happy life in Hollywood. However she liked this film, as it had no pretensions and similarly her leading man. She described Bing Crosby as a pleasant unassuming fellow who she liked, but didn't get to know real well. Frances had a best friend, a matron of honor to be, for the wedding that didn't come off. She was played by Martha Sleeper and I think a lot of her part was edited out. Sleeper gave some hints of a really juicy Eve Arden type character that could have been used more.

The second leads were played by Bob Burns and Martha Raye. Burns, the Arkansas Traveler and regular on Crosby's Kraft Music Hall, played his usual rustic type and in this film introduced his patented musical instrument, the bazooka. Made out of two gas pipes and a funnel, the bazooka was a kind of countrified bassoon. The army's anti-tank device in World War II looked something like it and it was named as such.

Martha Raye made her debut in this film and would go on to do two other films with Crosby. She sings her famous Mr. Paganini number here and her bumptious character complement Burns quite nicely.

Crosby sings A Cowboy's Lullaby to Cuddles trying to calm him down during the train ride and the famous Empty Saddles during a scene at the Madison Square Garden Rodeo. He gets a ballad entitled I Can't Escape From You to sing while on the road with Farmer. But the most famous song to come out of this film is I'm An Old Cowhand which was a big seller for him. It's an ensemble number with just about everyone in the cast participating including as I said before, Roy Rogers and also a young Louis Prima. Now there's an interesting combination. I'm An Old Cowhand was written with words and music by Crosby's good friend and sometime singing partner Johnny Mercer.

IT's a good film and I'm surprised Paramount didn't come up with any more Western type material for Bing considering he did a lot of recording of that material. The only other western type ballads he ever sung on the screen were The Funny Old Hills from Paris Honeymoon and When The Moon Comes Over Madison Square from Rhythm on the River.

Crosby would have to wait until he essayed Thomas Mitchell's part in the remake of Stagecoach during the 1960s to be in another western. And there he sang no songs at all.

One song that was cut out from the film was a duet by Crosby and Farmer called The House Jack Built for Jill. Crosby did record it for Decca as a solo and it is heard towards the end of the film in background. I was lucky to get a bootleg recording from the cut soundtrack. Frances talk/sings a la Rex Harrison and Bing sings it in his inimitable style. I think this was supposed to be a finale and it was cut at the last minute. The film does end somewhat abruptly and you can tell there was more shot. Maybe one day it will be restored.

Rhythm on the Range was remade by Paramount with Martin and Lewis as Pardners. Dean and Jerry are good, but it ain't a patch to the original.
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Dated, but the first half of Frances Farmer's 1936 one-two punch to stardom
jmk5612 March 2005
Several of the preceding comments have gone into great detail about the film and its pleasures. "Rhythm on the Range" is, to our modern jaded eyes and ears, obviously dated, but it has a charm and sly humor that are abundant enough that even 21st century sophisticates can enjoy it. I concur that the major reason to watch the film is for the wonderful performance of Frances Farmer, here somewhat eschewing her early haughty characterizations for an almost subversive comedic performance. This was Frances' first "A" production, after receiving top billing in two very well received Paramount "B"'s, "Too Many Parents" and "Border Flight." Frances went straight from this film to her legendary role(s) in Goldwyn's "Come and Get It," so from late summer, when "Rhythm" was released, through the end of 1936, when "Come and Get It" premiered, she was arguably the hottest, and certainly one of the most talked about, new stars of that era.

The duet one of the previous commenters mentioned, "The House Jack Built for Jill," was in fact filmed but was not, as that commenter stated, slated for the end of the film, but rather for the scene where Bing and Frances escape the rainstorm and find shelter in the farmhouse. I have Norman Taurog's original shooting script and the scene is still extant in the script, including Taurog's blue line through the pages indicating it was filmed.

One of the previous commenters repeated some unfortunately commonly believed misinformation about Frances. Though Frances' institutionalization was certainly no picnic (to say the least), the most horrifyingly sensationalized allegations about her treatment (found in both her ghost-written autobiography and the largely fictionalized "Shadowland") never happened, including the spurious claim that she was lobotomized. My article detailing the truth about these allegations, "Shedding Light on Shadowland," is linked under the Miscellaneous section on the IMDb listing for Frances Farmer. Or you can find it by using a search engine and searching for "Shedding Light on Shadowland."
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Hilarious Film Debut for Martha Raye
drednm1 July 2005
Pleasant musical with several great spots. Rhythm on the Range stars Bing Crosby as a rodeo star and Frances Farmer as a debutante. Yes, that's right. They share a box car heading to Arizona and fall in love. Along for the ride are Martha Raye and Bob Burns. Bizarro plot, but it all works. Crosby and Raye are just terrific. Crosby debuts "I'm an Old Cow Hand" with help from Raye, Burns, Louis Prima, Leonid Kinsky, and Roy Rogers! And Raye sings her signature tune, "Mr. Paganini"--the show stopper. Farmer is gorgeous, Crosby is smooth, and Raye is hilarious. You gotta see this film. Also in it are Martha Sleeper as the catty bride's maid, Lucille Gleason as Penny, Samuel S. Hinds, and a trio of hapless thugs: James Burke, Warren Hymer, and George E. Stone. Lots of fun. And Martha Raye should have been a much bigger movie star!
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Pleasant Romp on the Range
jayraskin118 January 2010
The movie keeps shifting plots every 15 minutes. It seems probable that lots of material was cut out, as very little makes much sense.

However, the movie contains so many delightful elements that one hardly cares. Bing Crosby is quite pleasant. He is wonderfully laid back and relaxed, just saying his lines between songs. This allows us to focus mainly on Francis Farmer, who is captivatingly beautiful as a runaway heiress-bride. Bob Burns with an instrument he invented called "the Bazooka" and Leonid Kinskey as the Russian immigrant cowboy "Mischa" provide a few laughs. Cuddles the Bull is also a surprisingly effective animal co-star.

This is 20 year old Martha Raye's screen debut and it is quite unusual. She is doing vaudeville without toning it down one iota for the screen. This makes a sharp contrast to Crosby and Farmer's gentle reserved acting styles. She is frenetic, shouting and jumping all other the sets. There is something disturbing about her man-hungry character, Emma. It is a sex-role reversal with the woman as the obsessed predator who can't control herself and offers herself to any stray man. With so many other out-of-synch elements in the film, she just fits right in.

It is a little ironic that Raye would get top billing two years later in "Give Me A Sailor" which was Bob Hope's first real starring film. So Raye worked with both Crosby and Hope before they worked together on the road pictures.

For about 15 minutes towards the end of the film, there's a nice jamboree which includes the introduction of the classic Johnny Mercer song "I'm an Old Cow Hand". The three or four plot lines are kept in limbo while this is going on. If we had cared about the plot lines, we would have been upset, but since they are so light and flimsy anyway, we can see them as just excuses for this nice vaudeville segment.

It is a shame that the duet between Farmer and Crosby was cut. I hope someone finds it somewhere and releases it on Youtube.

Ultimately, this is an amusing and reasonably clever concoction of fluff and music. It is too slow-paced for today's ADD generation, but for lovers of Old Hollywood, it is fine.
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Fun and Decent Entertainment
scoopr923 June 2003
This is one of my absolute favorites of Bing Crosby movies. It not only has an amusing and romantic story line, it features some great songs, like "I'm an Old Cowhand", which went on to be a huge hit. The movie also introduces a very young Roy Rogers (with a spot in the song segment of "I'm an Old Cowhand"), as well as Martha Raye and Bill Burns.

By today's standards, it may be considered outdated or corny. But for those who like decent movies with no violence, language, sexual or suggestive content, it is a great movie and I know they will enjoy it.
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It Happened Out West
lugonian4 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
RHYTHM ON THE RANGE (Paramount, 1936), directed by Norman Taurog, stars none other than Bing Crosby in a change of pace where he saddles up in western attire playing a singing cowboy, or by profession, a cattleman. In spite of his starring status, the scenario actually focuses more on Frances Farmer in her third feature film performance and rising to star prominence.

Those familiar with the Academy Award winning Frank Capra directorial 1934 comedy of IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, (runaway heiress meeting ordinary guy on a bus from Miami to New York), or others like it, will take notice in some similarities here (runaway heiress meeting ordinary guy on freight train from New York to Arizona), with of course, some revisions: Doris (Frances Farmer), a Park Avenue heiress, daughter to Robert Holloway (Samuel S. Hinds), the richest banker of New York, is making arrangements for her upcoming wedding to the wealthy Wall Street financial vice president and polo player named John Ashley Dolby III (a character never seen, except through a still photograph). Penelopie Ryland, "a true pioneer woman" (Lucille Webster-Gleason), her visiting aunt from Green Pastures, Arizona, realizes immediately that her niece is not marrying for love and tells her so. Later that night, Penelopie, who is sponsoring a rodeo contest at Madison Square Garden, makes an accusation to the crowd that embarrasses Doris enough to leave the stadium before things get underway. At the rodeo, Jeff Larrabee (Bing Crosby), assisted by his sidekick, Buck Eaton (Bob Burns), participates himself in every event in order to win the grand prize, the 2,000 pound champion bull named Cuddles. Following the event, Jeff arrives at his box car with Cuddles on time, while Buck and their boss, Penelopie, miss the train. As for Jeff, he find he's not traveling entirely alone when he notices Doris (under the guise of Lois Hall), which turns to a series of arguments between them. As for Buck, he encounters the daffy Emma Madison (Martha Raye), a Macy's shop girl taking a vacation to visit her brother.

On the musical program, songs include: "Empty Saddles" (by Billy Hill and J. Kiern Brennan); "Sundown" (by Walter Bullock and Richard Whiting); "I Can't Escape From You" (by Leo Robin and Richard Whiting/ all sung by Bing Crosby); "Mr. Pagagini" (by Sam Coslow/ sung by Martha Raye); "Drink It Down" (by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger/ sung by Leonid Kinskey and cowboys); and "I'm an Old Cowhand From the Rio Grande" (by Johnny Mercer/ sung by The Sons of the Pioneers, Bing Crosby, Bob Burns, and cast). While "I'm an Old Cowhand" is the most memorable song in this production, "Empty Saddles" and "I Can't Escape From You" are also as good as it gets. On a slower tempo is "Sundown," which Crosby sings to the bull to calm down and go to sleep on the freight train. So soothing is his vocalizing that he even succeeds in giving Frances Farmer her lullaby of rest as she lays up in a pile of hay for the night.

Making her movie debut in RHYTHM ON THE RANGE is Martha Raye. Arriving a bit late into the story, her familiar mannerisms and screwball antics help give the movie some uplifting moments. In spite the fact that Raye's style of comedy may or may not influence the younger generation of it's interesting to point out that in her day, the lady with the wide Joe E. Brown-type mouth was hailed as one of the funnier of the slapstick comediennes. Aside from a drunken scene where she sings a portion of "Love in Bloom" (a little inside humor since this popular song was initially introduced by Bing Crosby in the college musical, SHE LOVES ME NOT, in 1934) to Samuel S. Hinds, Raye even sings her signature number of "Mr. Pagagini" while sober. Bob Burns, the slow-witted philosopher who enjoys himself by playing his own musical instrument called the "bazooka," makes good comic foil to Raye, and would work together again in other feature comedies. Others in the supporting cast include: Martha Sleeper, George E. Stone, James Burke, Warren Hymer and Clem Bevans.

As much as the runaway heiress theme has become common place in many 1930s comedies, RHYTHM ON THE RANGE comes across quite well with its predictability. Crosby is no stranger in encountering troublesome heiresses on screen. With Frances Farmer (1914-1970) being one of the most attractive of his co-stars, he did come across the spitfire of Carole Lombard in WE'RE NOT DRESSING (1934). Even some of the dialogue "I've never been so serious in all my life," used here is echoed from WE'RE NOT DRESSING. There is even some fine western scenery during its second half making one wish the film were produced in Technicolor. Overall, RHYTHM ON THE RANGE makes satisfying viewing during its 87 minutes of screen nonsense.

Out of circulation from the commercial late night television markets for since the early 1980s, RHYTHM ON THE RANGE will never cease to be out of view due to its current availability on either home video (distributed in 1995, preceded by a theatrical trailer) or DVD (double featured with Crosby's 1940 release of RHYTHM ON THE RIVER) or broadcast of Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: August 3, 2016) and the Encore Western Channel. In conclusion, Look fast for a young Roy Rogers, future star in Republic Studios "B" westerns of the 1940s and 50s, appearing briefly in the "I'm an Old Cowhand" festivity sequence. (***).
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There's a reason why Bing Crosby was one of the biggest box office stars of his era!
jpstewart-0257825 February 2018
Never mind the story (it rips along anyway), it's the playing (fun and lively from Bob Burns and Martha Raye) apt from Crosby and adequate from Francis Farmer) and the backgrounds, plus at least three good songs beautifully performed by Crosby and others including, briefly, Louis Prima and Roy Rogers! Well worth a visit.
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Delightful! Just delightful!
JohnHowardReid21 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Australian release: 26 September 1936. Sydney opening at the Prince Edward: 26 September 1936 (ran only two weeks on a double bill with Big Brown Eyes). 87 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Cowboy en-trains from New York to Green Pastures, Arizona, with his prize bull, "Cuddles". He finds a stowaway in the box car who passes herself of as Lois Hall, a cook. In actual fact, she is a runaway heiress.

NOTES: Crosby made only two westerns in his entire screen career. The other: "Stagecoach" (1966).

Domestically, one of the top twenty box-office successes of 1936. Oddly, the movie failed to draw anything like similar crowds overseas.

Film debut of Martha Raye. Also the "official" screen debut of Bob Burns, although he had in fact appeared in ten or eleven films beforehand.

COMMENT: Despite many slight imperfections, "Rhythm on the Range" impresses as an absolutely delightful musical comedy. Let's get the piffling problems out of the way first: It's obvious the screenplay was re-written on the run, which accounts for the various names attributed to the Frances Farmer character, the inconsistent spelling of Jeff's surname, the introductory "Narrow Gage" for James Burke who is addressed in the following scene as "Wabash" and the fact that two different players (one a hobo, the other a ranch-hand) bear the confusing name, "Shorty".

Different synopses of the plot appear in various books (in the earlier scenario, Martha Raye was a society woman), and one of the subsidiary story threads involving the three hobos comes to a sudden dead end. Lovely Martha Sleeper plays an agreeably acidic society girl in the opening reel, but then disappears. We keep waiting for her to come back.

Viewing the wonderful trailer, you can actually see some great shots which are not in the film at all. At least two additional song numbers were captured on film by energetic director Norman Taurog but left on the cutting-room floor. That's a pity, but it's an even greater shame the cutter didn't also delete a muffed encounter between Martha Raye and Samuel S. Hinds in which the veteran actor fails dismally as a straight man. Fortunately, the scene only runs two minutes, but that boring and embarrassingly inept little interlude blots an otherwise perfectly scintillating piece of lavishly-produced, merrymaking entertainment. It's the main reason I'd give Rhythm on the Range only 90% instead of 100%. (Another, but less important point, is that I don't like Leonid Kinskey's loudmouth impression of a Russian ranch-hand).

Now for the good news: Bing not only plays the cowboy as if to the saddle born but sings (and can he sing!) four great numbers, including the haunting "Empty Saddles", the wistful "Round-up Lullaby", the lilting "I Can't Escape from You", and the rousing production number, "I'm an Old Cowhand" which must be counted one of the top novelty tunes of all time. It was Bing Crosby (and no-one else) who propelled it on to the charts.

It's also nonsense to say (as some critics have done) that Crosby is upstaged by his co-stars. He is always in charge, always the lead. Supporting him are gloriously radiant Frances Farmer (who was never more attractively photographed and costumed), "pioneer woman" Lucille Gleason, plus "the newcomers", Martha Raye and Bob Burns.

Admittedly, Miss Raye does have some sidesplitting lines and bits of business. But so does James Burke (and I've not read anywhere that Burke put the Bing in the shade). One of Burke's funniest lines: "I just had to conk somebody!" I also loved this exchange: PORTER: "Want a Redcap, lady?" EMMA: "What? With a brown jacket and a checkered skirt? Are you kiddin'?"
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Surprisingly, the Martin & Lewis version is more snappy
vincentlynch-moonoi12 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This film was later remade as "Pardners" with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. While I'm an avid Martin fan, I'm no fan of Jerry Lewis, and I very much like Bing Crosby and like Martha Raye. My suggestion is to watch "Pardners" instead; it doesn't drag as this film seems to. And, while aspects of both films are different, there are other parts that are surprisingly similar.

The problem with this film is that, as much as I like Crosby in both musicals and dramas, I have a difficult time imagining him as a bronco riding steer wrestler. It just doesn't work.

What does work are the songs, particularly an outstanding rendition of "Empty Saddles" (its debut). In terms of plot...pretty light.

Aside from not being very believable as a rough and tumble cowboy, Crosby is still his pleasant self on screen, and this film was right at the beginning of what I think were Bing's best early years on film.

I was not impressed with Frances Farmer here as the love interest. I know she had an "interesting" and tragic life, but I have yet to be impressed with any of her film roles.

Bob Burns is sort of humorous as the side kick, as is Martha Raye as the Easterner who goes after the hick Westerner. Samuel S. Hinds, a great character actor is along for a few scenes, and Lucile Gleason in a rather truncated role that just seems to hang out there with little real connection to the rest of the film.

Even as somewhat of a Crosby fan, this film had trouble holding my attention. It's not bad, nor great.
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Very corny, but interesting as an early Frances Farmer movie.
none-8513 December 1998
One of Frances Farmer's earliest movies; at 22, she is absolutely beautiful. Bing Crosby is in great voice, but the songs are not his best. Martha Raye and Bob Burns are interesting, but their comedy, probably great in its time, is really corny today. Roy Rogers also appears- in a singing role. In my view only worth watching if you are a Frances Farmer fan, and possibly a Bing Crosby fan.
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One of the most bizarre casting decisions in Hollywood history....but still very enjoyable.
MartinHafer21 August 2016
Hollywood in the classic era occasionally made some very, very bizarre casting decisions. Since actors were generally contracted to studios, often they'd stick some of these folks in the darnedest pictures and there wasn't much the actors could do about it. Some great examples of bizarro casting was seeing Katharine Hepburn as a Chinese woman in "Dragon Seed" as well as John Wayne as Genghis Khan in "The Conqueror". Not QUITE this strange, but close, is seeing Bing Crosby playing a cowboy in "Rhythm on the Range". Bing Crosy as a cowboy?! Believe it or not!

When the film begins, Doris (Frances Farmer) is rehearsing for her wedding. She's a spoiled woman and freely admits she's marrying more out of boredom than anything else! Fortunately, when she goes to a rodeo and sees the buff he-man, Jeff Larabee (Crosby) she is smitten...though he seems more smitten with a cow! Strange as it is, this is the film in a nutshell!

While casting Crosby as a cowboy was stupid and udderly ridiculous, this film manages to be a lot of fun. Even with the inclusion of Martha Raye (who is usually too brash and obnoxious), it's still filled with neat songs and characters. Brilliant or sophisticated? No way...but still somehow fun and worth seeing.

By the way, during a song and dance number late in the film, it's Louis Prima singing and playing trumpet. He wasn't yet famous and later would gain eternal fame as King Louie in the cartoon "The Jungle Book".
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Opposites distract.
mark.waltz29 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
She's café society, He's the class act of "Hee Haw". When they meet, it's happening one night all over again as the cowboy and the lady end up finding romance in spite of each other. Actually, she's deceiving him all along, pretending to be a cook hopping a freight cross country and ending up sharing spaces with him and his prized bull. Bing Crosby and Frances Farmer don't necessarily have the greatest chemistry, but his easy going charm does bring out a twinkle in her eye.

In second comic relief leads (besides the bull) are Bob Burns and a big mouthed clown named Martha Raye. She's made up to look rather dowdy but there is a striking woman under all the facial grimaces and self deprecating humor. Smaller roles are filled by Samuel S. Hinds as Farmer's wealthy dad and Lucille Gleason as her masculine aunt who came from the hills herself. Gleason is outrageous and steals every moment that she's in the film.

Musically, this only features several songs, but the way Crosby sings them makes them stand out even more. I prefer Crosby's 1930 style which was much more intense and thus more sultry. It's easy to see why he was such a box office draw considering that he wasn't exactly great to look at. Raye jumps in with a bouncy Mr. Paganini" which became her signature. There's very little dancing, so this isn't up there with the big musicals that Warner Brothers was putting out at the time, but filled with romance and comedy, it ultimately ends up being a total crowd pleaser.
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Farmer And The Cowman
writers_reign26 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
As I've said before and will no doubt say again moviegoers were were easily satisfied in the thirties as this hotch potch illustrates to a fare-thee-well. Bing Crosby as a seasoned rodeo competitor is about as convincing as Fred Astaire playing a coal miner and with that as a premise all that is lacking is a pair of red shoes, a yellow brick road and a talking scarecrow. The runaway heiress plot makes an early appearance and is pursued half-heartedly for three or four reels. Martha Raye makes her debut and blends in to the story the way Tarzan blends into Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. In between there are songs, all placed perfectly - like Empty Saddles at Madison Square Garden or the sophisticated 'Eastern' references of I'm An Old Cowhand From The Rio Grande at an Arizona camp fire. Apart from reservations like these this is a pleasant enough curio.
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Not Really Worth Exploring
DKosty1239 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Considering the folks involved making this movie, I expected a much better movie. Maybe it is because it is 1936, this film is a big let down. There are several older Crosby films I want to see, but after seeing this one I understand why late night comedians used to make jokes about it.

Martha Raye does a lot of singing in this one, but the songs are very forgettable. Even Crosby's songs are lacking in this one. The story is the predictable romance and this movie looks like a "relic" gotten from the cutting room floor.

I am not sure why Roy Rogers pops in on a short cameo and they do not ask him to sing, but considering the songs in this one, maybe he got lucky. Frances Farmer is the main female lead here, and the story really gets little traction and often the music is just put in to break up the songs.

Norman Taurog does some much better direction in later films, do not judge him on this one. Der Binger does ride a horse and look like a cowboy, though he sure does not talk like one. I was glad when this ended as even the ending left something to be desired.
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Enjoyable musical "It Happened One Night", with Bob Burns and Martha Raye playing a second spurious romantic couple.
weezeralfalfa21 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Comes across as a musical screwball comedy follow up on the wildly popular "It Happened One Night", of two years earlier. To me, if not everyone, it's as least as interesting. Bing Crosby is the star, posing as a cowhand on an Arizona ranch, whose boss, Penelope, played by the forceful Lucile Gleason, has brought her top cowhands to Madison Square Garden, to compete in a rodeo. Bing(as Jeff) is her best hope(actually, Bing's stunt doubles). Stout rustic comedian Bob Burns(Buck) is Bing's best buddy, but seems totally out of his tree as a rodeo contestant. Serendipitously, Penelope's niece, Doris(Francis Farmer) is participating in the rehearsal for her next day wedding. It's essentially a marriage arranged by her very wealthy father(played by Sam Hinds) to a Wall Street executive, designed to further increase the wealth of the family. The previously married groom didn't bother to show up for the rehearsal, and Penelope discovers that Doris isn't very excited about her perspective husband. Thus, while watching the rodeo, Penelope suggests to her brother that they cancel the wedding and allow Doris to spend some time on her ranch to acquire some earthy character. He doesn't agree, but Doris likes the idea and runs off to the train station to hide in one of the ranch box cars. Bing herds his prize bull Cuddles into this boxcar, then later discovers Doris asleep under some hay. He's not pleased at her presence, and orders her off at the next stop, unaware of who she is. But, it's pouring rain and the station is 10 miles away, so he allows her back in for the next stop. While Bing leaves for a short while, Cuddles chases Doris out of the car into a meadow, and Bing has to rescue her. Meanwhile, the train leaves, and they split ways temporarily. But Doris soon steals a car with wagon attached, and finally convinces an objecting Bing to join her, with Cuddles in the wagon. They camp in a woods that night, and get a little better acquainted. The next night, they try to spend the night in a random barn, but they are locked in by the 3 hobos trailing them, hoping to collect a reward for the safe return of Doris. Cuddles gets mad and knocks the door down, after the 3 conveniently leave for the night They continue on until their car gets stuck during a violent nighttime rainstorm. Bing discovers that they are in front of his ranch house, he shares with Buck! Inside, he finds Buck, with a woman(Martha Raye, as Emma) he met on the train, who is also headed for Penelope's ranch, where her brother works. They travel on to Penelope's ranch, with talk of possible marriages beginning to surface, further developed at the ranch. Meanwhile, the 3 hobos have somehow managed to stay on their trail, not knowing that Doris's father will soon arrive at the ranch with Penelope. During a ranch party, they empty the gas tanks of all vehicles except their chosen get away car. Penelope accuses Bing of being a gold digger, so he rides his horse to his ranch, upset. Doris bribes the 3 hobos to take her in 'their' car after Bing. At his ranch, after a hesitant moment, Cuddles pushes Bing into Doris, and they kiss to end the film(Something you might expect in a John Wayne western!).

Currently, there are only 8 IMDb user reviews for this film, vs. more than 200 for "It Happened One Night"! Why? I can't offer a full explanation. Although Frances was well cast as a sheltered NYC debutante, she lacked the charm and cute face of Claudette Colbert, who took her role in the earlier film. Bing lacked the masculine sex appeal of Gable, and his romantic conversion was much more tenuous, even at the end. Their supposed journey from NYC to AZ is way too truncated to be believable, among many unbelievable coincidences in the plot. How did the hobos manage to keep up with them, with no apparent means of transport away from the box car?

Long time vaudevillian and sometimes band singer Martha Raye is in her feature film debut, where she demonstrates both talents. We first meet her at a train station, where she runs up and kisses Burns as a supposed lost lover. She would often portray herself as homely and clumsy, thus necessitating aggressiveness in man pursuit. Drunk scenes were another favorite of hers, as all too graphically demonstrated in her embarrassing last scene, when she is falling down drunk, trying to flirt with Doris's gray-haired father! In between these scenes, she livens things up with her frequent hysterical antics, in marked contrast to her laconic costars. She would rise quickly to star billing for a few films, then fade from films during and after WWII.....Bob Burns somewhat reminds us of Will Rogers, with his down home comments and humor. Only in the '30s could he get away with making a name with his very crude, very limited utility, musical instrument, dubbed the bazooka.

In the music department, Bing wins the rodeo singing contest with "Empty Saddles", then sings the traditional"Roundup Lullaby" in the box car, to hopefully calm Cuddles and Doris. Around the camp fire, he sings the appropriate "I Can't Escape From You". At the ranch party, all participate in Johnny Mercer's "I'm an Old Cowhand", and Martha does her signature "Mr. Paganini" song and dance with great idiosyncratic gusto. In all, a much better musical program than usually given credit for, with several composed for this film. Ella Fitzgerald also recorded "Mr. Paganini" that year.

Clearly, some of the outdoors scenes were shot in the unique Alabama Hills region, with the Sierras in the background, as seen in many a western.
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