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Red River Valley

 

Republic Pictures Corporation

Production Dates: October 23 1941 - November 10 1941

Release Date: 1941 12 12

Running time: 62 minutes

Key book (production) number: 1122

Location: Iverson's Ranch

Trio: Bob Nolan, Tim Spencer and Lloyd Perryman

 

• Credits

• Cast

• Songs

• Plot

• Production and publicity stills

• Posters

• This movie is available on DVD.

 

        This is the first movie the Sons of the Pioneers made with Roy Rogers for Republic Studios. When they completed their contract with Columbia Pictures in 1940, the Pioneers left Hollywood for Chicago and stayed in that area for approximately nine months, working on radio and touring the eastern states. They signed a contract with Republic Pictures to appear in a new series of Roy Rogers movies and Red River Valley was the first. Called back to Hollywood, they worked the Camel Caravan route up and down the California coast until Republic called them to start filming on October 23, 1941. They completed the picture on November 10.

        Aside from a new gun belt and holster, Bob continued to wear his Columbia costume of fitted woolen shirt and white hat with the throat strap. Many of the songs were from their previous films with Charles Starrett: "Sunset on the Trail" (The Man from Sundown), "When Payday Rolls Around" (South of Arizona), "Rosita's Papa" (The Thundering West) and "Springtime on the Range" (The Man from Sundown). Plans were made to use a song by Glenn Spencer ("Tim" in the article) called "So Long to the Red River Valley" but we have been unable to find an copy of the uncut film and the song is not in our video.

        Most of the Sons of the Pioneers had a word or two of dialogue. Bob had a few lines but nothing like the second lead roles he had played in the Columbia pictures. No doubt many of the Sons of the Pioneers' scenes were cut for the TV format. In this movie, George Hayes is more of a second lead than a sidekick.

        Red River Valley is the old story of crooks posing as honest ranchers while stealing from them. Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers play themselves as radio stars. Roy kidnaps, commits arson and does some "honest" robbery. In other words, he breaks the law in several directions to see that justice is done. This is surprising in a film designed for children. There is plenty of comedy and never enough singing.

 

NB: A great many pictures were taken on September 29, 1941.

 

 


 

Cast:

 

Left: Gale Storm as Kay Sutherland and Roy Rogers as himself

Right: The Sons of the Pioneers as themselves

 

George Hayes as Gabby Whittaker and Sally Payne as his daughter, Sally Whittaker

 

Trevor Bardette as Ross Allison (left) and Robert Homans as Sheriff Sutherland, Kay's father

 

Left: Hal Taliaferro as Murdock

Right: Dick Wessell as the driver of the lumber truck, listening to Sally Payne

 

Others in the Cast:

Lynton Brent as Feld, henchman

Ed Piel Sr. as a cattle rancher

Ted Mapes as uncredited henchman

Fred Burns as cattle rancher, uncredited

Hank Bell as Hank, uncredited

 

Songs:

Red River Valley (traditional)
(Love Begins at) Sunset on the Trail (Tim Spencer)
Lily of Hillbilly Valley (Tim Spencer)
Chant of the Wanderer (Bob Nolan) / Red River Valley
When Payday Rolls Around (Bob Nolan)
Cielito Lindo (Quirino Mendoza y Cortes)
Rosita’s Papa (Hugh Farr)
Springtime on the Range (Tim Spencer)

Republic Theme over End Credits

 

Plot:

        The film opens with Roy Rogers singing Red River Valley to Kay Sutherland, the sheriff's daughter, as they ride into town for the Pioneer Homecoming celebrations arranged for Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers. Roy, a local boy who made good, has a very busy career and a popular radio show with the Sons of the Pioneers but he gladly accepts the invitation to his old home town. By the time they arrive at the party in the Town Hall, the Sons of the Pioneers are finishing singing Sunset on the Trail.

 

 

        The festivities are interrupted by an explosion in the Red River Land and Water Company office. Everyone rushes out in time to see horsemen galloping away with the dam site payroll and $182,000. This has become a distressingly common occurrence and the bandits are still unidentified. Tonight they have stolen the money collected by the townspeople as their share for building the dam which will save their animals and crops from the drought.

 

 

        Everyone who has a horse mounts and gallops furiously in the dark with neither accident nor success after the thieves who transfer to a car and escape. Roy takes a shot at them with his rifle but Ross Allison's horse "accidentally" bumps Trigger and the bullet goes astray.

 

 

    The angry sheriff, who has never liked Roy, is ready to blame him for the loss of the money because everyone was at the Homecoming in Roy's honour instead of guarding the money. The sheriff bitterly tells Roy that it was not a good idea for him to come back home. As Roy silently turns Trigger and rides back to town, he notices the glint of the trademark symbol from a hubcap, half buried in the dust. He picks it up and slips it into his pocket.

 

 

        Gabby Whittaker enters his newspaper office to find his daughter, Sally, pulling at the telephone cables, playing them like the bass fiddle of her favourite Pioneer, Pat Brady. It is obvious that this is not just a newspaper office, but the telephone office and the barbershop, as well.

 

 

        Gabby suggests Sally get her mind off the bull fiddle and its player and set up the press for the latest news plus the serial numbers of the money that was stolen. Just then the still angry sheriff, accompanied by his daughter and Allison, pushes his way into the room and demands a shave. As Gabby lathers his face, Allison insinuates that Roy could be responsible for the theft. Allison owns a casino in Nevada called the Casa Rio as well as a small ranch on this side of the state line.

 

 

        Roy walks into the room and exchanges sarcasms with Allison.

 

 

        Tiring of the game, Allison picks up his hat and makes some deprecating remarks about the owl on the bookcase. He asks who stuffed it and Gabby replied, "The greatest naturalist there is." Remarking that it was not a very good job, he starts to leave and the owl screeches at him then winks.

 

 

                After he drives away, Roy asks Gabby to explain the situation in the valley. Using the sheriff's lathered face as a map, Gabby shows where the government is cutting the Red River off at its source in the mountains to furnish power and light for "an essential industry". The government put up half the money and the  local people have raised the other half to build the White Mountain Dam. A bypass canal from the dam would bring water down into the old Red River waterbed. During the year, many unexplained accidents have happened, all delaying the building of the dam. Now, the remaining money has been stolen and things look utterly hopeless.

 

       

        The scene changes and the bandits' car is seen meeting Allison's in the dark. Someone throws the valise of money into the back of Allison's convertible and both cars drive on.

 

 

        The next morning, the sheriff is addressing the dam workmen who have not been paid and are looking for their paychecks. Murdock, the dam's construction manager, sends them on their way.

 

 

        Inside, a stockholder's meeting is taking place. The sheriff in a vile mood, taking mean shots at Roy throughout the meeting. Every suggestion Roy makes, he shoots down with a sneer but when Allison smoothly suggests that his partners in the Casa Rio could buy their stocks in the company with a buy-back clause he is agreeable. Roy sees immediately that it would mean that Allison and his partners would be controlling the water and thence the valley but the other men back the sheriff who thinks it's a great idea. Gabby lets them know that he is against it and that the Red River Gazette is going to "tell the world".

 

 

        Gabby walked back into his newspaper office to find his daughter singing with the Sons of the Pioneers who are putting in the time by rehearsing. Sally Whittaker and Pat Brady are flirting through The Lily of Hillbilly Valley. It's obvious that Sally thinks the world of Pat.

 

 

    As the song ends, Murdoch walks in and demands a shave. They discuss the problem of raising money and the stockholders' meeting.

 

 

    Roy walks in as Gabby reclines the barber chair and lathers Murdoch's face. Roy declares his suspicion of Allison's plans and Murdoch says he doesn't know anything about it. Gabby agrees with him but goes farther and says he doesn't trust Allison or Murdoch, either. Murdoch sits up in his chair and challenges that remark. Gabby lets him know that he suspects him of arranging the "accidents" on the dam. Murdoch jumps out of the chair and prepares to hit Gabby but Roy steps in and the fight is on with Murdoch eventually being hastened out the door.

 

 

    As he gets into his car, Roy notices the Cadillac emblem on the hubcap and compares it to the one he has kept in his pocket.

 

 

    Roy walks into the office again and asks Gabby if he can prove any of what he's accused Murdoch and Gabby agrees he cannot prove anything. But, he says, he knows Allison and Murdoch are working together because he can feel it right in the end of his whiskers.

 

 

    Roy tells the Pioneers to load up their instruments and they are leaving for El Paso where they have a radio broadcast to make.

    As they are about to leave, Kay walks up with Allison to say goodbye. Roy is careful to let them know that he is going to El Paso.

 

 

    As they drive away, Bob says, "If this is the way to El Paso, they must have moved it." Roy tells them of his new plans. As soon as it gets dark, he says, they will sneak into Roy's ranch and steal some of his horses. He asks Tim to take the station wagon to Hank's cabin.

 

 

    Later that night, the Pioneers and Roy "steal" their own horses. Sally Whittaker, curling her hair for the night while she admires Pat's photo, picks it up and sets it on the window sill. While she is standing at the window, she notices activity by the corral and watches. Roy sees her at the window and tells Pat to shut her up. Pat climbs over the fence and dashes up to the house where Sally meets him at the door, falling down the stairs as she does. Pat explains what they are doing and asks her not to tell her father. "I haven't any secrets from Pappy," she objects, and Pat answers, "And he hasn't any secrets from anyone else!"

 

 

    Meanwhile, Gabby has been startled out of sleep by Sally's noisy descent of the stairs, picks up his shotgun and leaves his room. As he sneaks around the verandah, he trips, falls and the shotgun goes off. He meets Sally in the kitchen but she pretends ignorance. He hears the sound of galloping hooves and realizes he has heard horse thieves. He scolds his bloodhound who has slept through all the commotion, jumps into his Model T and commands the dog to search.

 

 

    The scene changes to the Red River Land and Water Co. where Roy and the Pioneers have headed, trying to find proof of crime against Allison and Murdock. Roy and Bob Nolan hand the reins of their horses to others and sneak onto the property, looking for a similar hub cab emblem to the one Roy found. They find the La Salle and, sure enough, the emblem is missing from one of the hub caps.

 

 

    Gabby, still in his night shirt, has followed his bloodhound who has followed the Pioneers to the same place and he trips over empty barrels in the dark, making enough noise to arouse Allison and Murdock. Gabby quickly climbs a tree which has a raccoon in it. The men head for the garage just as Roy and Bob are about to leave.

 

 

    Gunfire is exchanged, no one is hit, and then Roy and Bob jump into the crime car and burst through the closed garage door.

 

 

    They swiftly drive away and, when the Pioneers catch up with their horses, Roy and Bob abandon the car by jumping from it onto their horses. It careens over a cliff. The crooks, in hot pursuit in another car, give up the chase and inspect the wrecked Cadillac. Roy and the Pioneers head for town to give their evidence to the sheriff. Unwittingly, they leave Gabby in the tree with the raccoon.

 

 

    When they get back to the office, Allison and Murdock find the company dogs plus the bloodhound have treed both a raccoon and Gabby. Gabby gets himself out of the embarrassing mess with ferocious dignity.

 

 

    At the sheriff's home, Roy finds that his evidence is still not enough to change his mind about giving the deeds to Allison. He is a disagreeable and stubborn man who dislikes Roy intensely and will do nothing to help him.

 

 

    Roy and Bob give up trying to persuade him and force him to go to Hank Bell's shack with them. Kay is kidnapped, too. Unknown to them, the Chinese cook sees them leave.

 

 

    Next morning, Hank runs up to Roy waving a newspaper accusing him of kidnapping the sheriff and his daughter. Hank is worried but Roy is not.

 

 

    On the pretext of admiring Roy's fast mount, Kay steals Trigger and gallops toward town, stopping at the first public telephone. Roy saddles another animal and catches up to her in time to prevent her from finishing her call. She has reached Sally and told her where they are and to rescue them.

 

 

    Sally, at the switchboard while Allison and a group of towns people are in the same room, is in a quandary. She pretends it was an ordinary call and the meeting goes on.

 

 

    Allison accuses Roy of stealing his own horses and then the sheriff. Gabby assures him that he's crazy, that he is in El Paso for his radio broadcast.

 

 

 

    Sally, listening to all this, jumps into the Model T and drives to Hank's cabin to warn Roy. An angry Kay realizes that Sally has brought no help. Roy decides to make the broadcast from his own home by telephone through Sally's switchboard. He cautions her to get rid of Gabby. She promises.

 

 

    To Sally's dismay, Gabby decides to take an afternoon off work and nap by the fire so she mixes sleeping pills into his water and calls it "burpin' soda". As soon as Sally leaves the room, Gabby throws it into the fire, which blazes up suspiciously, but he settles down with his feet in the open oven and goes to sleep.

 

 

     Sally has run outside to call in Roy and the Pioneers and they get set up in the kitchen. Roy sends her off to the office to plug them in to El Paso. When they start singing "Chant of the Wanderer", Gabby wakes with a start but catches on to what they're doing and doesn't say anything.

 

 

    Meanwhile, Murdock and Allison are driving. When they realize it is time for the broadcast from El Paso, they turn on the car radio. "Chant of the Wanderer" comes in loud and clear and, for a moment, Allison is disconcerted but he is a canny villain and not easy to fool. After a moment's thought, he wonders if they are coming in by telephone and he turns the car and returns to Gabby's house.

 

 

    They hear the Pioneers singing "Red River Valley" and think they have caught the Pioneers. Allison sneaks up to a window to see Gabby apparently asleep and the gramophone playing a recording. He decides to talk to Gabby, anyway, and knocks on the door on the pretext of using the phone. Gabby is less than pleased to see him but permits him to use the telephone if he can fix it. It's obvious the telephone has been torn out and Gabby admits to a vile temper.

 

 

    Allison leaves but he is sure Roy and the Pioneers are there so he drives to higher ground where he can watch the place. He sees Roy and the boys ride out, guesses where they are going and beats them to Hank's cabin. Roy and the boys ride into an ambush but the Pioneers have trouble controlling their horses, get in the sheriff's way and Roy escapes on Trigger.

 

 

    The Pioneers are captured and taken to jail where next we see and hear them singing "When Pay Day Rolls Around". Bob begins singing his song and, to his disgust, Pat takes over on him. He soon puts an end to that with a hand over Pat's mouth. Hugh Farr does some very fine fiddle work.

 

 

 

    While the Pioneers are singing, the sheriff storms around his office, complaining loudly about the noise. A truck driver comes in with a bill and a load of lumber for the dam. The two men go outside where they can hear themselves think.

 

 

    As Gabby enters his office, Sally meets him, asking for Pat's welfare. Gabby complains about Roy's making an outlaw of himself and not fixing a thing because there is a stockholder meeting at the Casa Rio tonight, after all. Roy comes in on those words and tells Gabby he has a plan. First of all they have to get the Pioneers out of jail. Roy telephones a tow truck business and sends them out of town on a false alarm so he can steal back his own car.

 

 

    On the pretext of interviewing him for the paper, Sally holds the driver of the lumber truck in conversation while Gabby ties a huge rope from the chain strapping the lumber down on truck to the bars of the jail and frees the Pioneers who jump in with Roy as he careens down the main street in his Ford Woody.

 

 

    Allison and Murdock jump into their car to follow with Gabby as a passenger on the rear bumper. A mile or so out of town, Gabby shoots a hole in the gas tank, the car slows and stops, Gabby jumps off and runs down the side of the hill where Roy picks him up.

 

 

    The next scene is beautifully photographed. Roy, Gabby and the Pioneers are standing around a campfire eating beans and discussing their next move. They decide that the stolen money must be in the Casa Rio and somehow they must smoke it out. "Well," remarked Gabby. "Arson's about the only crime we ain't tried this week." Roy encourages the boys to eat up so they can get busy and  "try a little honest robbery".

 

 

    At the Casa Rio, a group in beautiful Spanish costume is playing Cielito Lindo. (Actually, the Pioneers have made the pre-recorded music.) The sheriff and the other stockholders walk through the casino. Roy instructs Gabby on how to create a smoke diversion while they wait for the entertainers to come out for a smoke. They overcome the entertainers, forcibly trade clothes with them and re-enter the room in magnificent Spanish costume to resume playing for the customers. They keep their heads down so their hats shade their faces.

 

 

    This time the Sons of the Pioneers play "Rosita's Papa" while the stockholders enter the office. When the tune is finished, Roy and the Pioneers enter the office in time to prevent the signing over of the stocks.

 

 

    Gabby yells that the place is burning down and there is pandemonium. Roy takes the sheriff up the hill with him and watches Allison re-enter the casino and emerge with the money in a bag. Roy and the sheriff intercept them but Allison drops the bag and he and Murdoch escape on horseback.

 

 

    After another wild chase in the dark, Roy bulldogs the two men who are riding together and fights them both to a finish by the time the Pioneers arrive to help.

 

 

 

    The headlines in the Red River Gazette read that the dam is completed, the sheriff will be in charge and Roy will be the new sheriff. (We assume he will marry the girl and endure a lifetime of snide remarks from her father.) Roy and Kay jump onto a hay wagon with the Pioneers and a load of pretty girls for a hay ride singing, "Springtime on the Range Today".

 

       


 

Production and Publicity Stills

 

Gale Storm and Roy Rogers

 

Courtesy of Jan Scott

 

Calin Coburn Collection © 2004

 

Calin Coburn Collection © 2004

 

Calin Coburn Collection © 2004

 

Courtesy of Jan Scott

 

Calin Coburn Collection © 2004

 

Calin Coburn Collection © 2004

 

Courtesy of Fred Sopher

 

Courtesy of Fred Sopher

 

Courtesy of Jan Scott

 

Courtesy of Jan Scott

 


 

Posters

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

Courtesy of Les Adams

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey