The film is titled Yodelin' Kid from Pine Ridge, release theatrically in June of 1937 by Republic Pictures, and starring Gene Autry. Everything in your heart of hearts tells you that this must be a happy-go-lucky Western musical, but it is anything but that!
This Western from Republic Picture and directed by Joseph Kane is one of four film restorations heading to the DVD marketplace on June 6 courtesy of The Film Detective.
In the first act of the film we find a turf war is going on between cattlemen, headed by Arthur Autry (played by none other than Charles “Ming the Merciless” Middleton) and a group of loggers known as the “turpentiners,” who distill turpentine from pine trees … the Greeks has a better use for pine tar — Retsina.
But no matter, Gene Autry’s dad is having nothing to do with these interlopers and when he finds that his son, who is in love with Milly, the daughter of the leaders of the “turpertiners,” tips them off to a raid by the cattlemen he is banished.
Skip ahead a couple of years and Gene (playing himself) returns to town as part of a traveling road show and finds that his father has been financially ruined, but that Milly (played by Betty Bronson) hasn’t yet married (bad news; good news). In short order Gene is charged with murdering his father and Milly’s father (Russell Simpson), but — with the help of Milly and his faithful sidekick “Frog” (Smiley Burnette) — he is able to bring the true villain to justice by the film’s end (hint: a cattleman and not a “turpertiner”).
If The Film Detective has a Gene Autry Western on its release schedule on any given week, five will get you ten that there will also be a Roy Rogers film in the mix. Have no fear as director Joseph Kane handles the action again in the 1939 film release of Saga of Death Valley, which teams Gene with Gabby Hayes, Don “Red” Berry and Doris Day in her film debut … no, not that Doris Day (aka: Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff), but the Doris Day that came before the other Doris Day (confusing).
As with Gene Autry in the aforementioned Yodelin' Kid from Pine Ridge, Roy’s dad is also murdered when he is but a child and his brother was kidnapped and raised by their father’s murderer. As an adult Roy returns to find that his brother (played by Don “Red” Berry) is a treacherous outlaw with no memory of his brother. So it is brother-against-brother on the frontier … only one will survive!
Rounding out this Western foursome on June 6 are director Lesley Selander’s 1941 film release of Wide Open Town, starring William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy and director Robert Emmett Tansey’s 1942 Tom Keene Western, Western Mail.