SONG OF TEXAS
This is a boilermaker plot, Roy and the good guys saving the ranch from the bad guys. But as run-of-the-mill as Song of Texas is, Roy Rogers’ acting is so outstanding that the film becomes a perfect example of his inability to make a wrong step before the camera. Every moment, he is acting, listening and reacting. He is in character — his character, his persona — in each frame.
The music: The film opens in a children’s hospital where Rogers visits and performs for the patients. While Mexicali Rose seems an odd and inappropriate choice, he delivers it in a manner suitable for children. But later when he sings Moonlight and Roses to his costar, it is definitely for adults only.
Rick’s Journal — MY FILM CAREER
Having written the mini review above, I next saw UNDER CALIFORNIA STARS
UNDER CALIFORNIA STARS
Roy Rogers performed for half a century. What I was not there for, I have researched and studied and retroactively reviewed. In all the years and career that are Roy Rogers, UNDER CALIFORNIA STARS is my first disappointment.
My initial reaction was to blame it on color. My gut told me that Roy Rogers does not belong in color. But then I recalled that I discovered him in color, singing “Blue Shadows on the Trail” in Disney’s Melody Time.
Could the fault be Trucolor? Much fault, in general, can be found with Trucolor. But can it explain some — only a handful — but some strange facial expressions which take him outside his persona? — for the FIRST TIME. (And Trucolor cannot be blamed for a slight addition in weight, especially in the face. Or can it?)
UNDER CALIFORNIA STARS has other problems. A dog of a plot; lack of pace; a kid at its center who cannot act; and uninteresting songs for Roy. Even Jane Frazee can’t be at her best when required to keep mugging for the camera.
And there must be the supposedly comic sidekick, and this time it’s the supposedly funny Andy Devine.
UNDER CALIFORNIA SKIES is of course worth seeing, but it is Roy’s first A-.
You’ve heard of the fastest gun in the west, king of the west, etc. I have always personally thought of Bob Nolan as ego of the west. But he is restrained and effective in UNDER CALIFORNIA SKIES. I may have been doing him an injustice.
COMING SOON TO RICK’S FLICKS — ROY ROGERS, ACTOR, AND MODERNIST
Yet one further quotation from Italo Calvino: As is evident from my previous citations, Calvino grew up in his small town in Italy learning and knowing the Hollywood film so well that he had all the themes, all the plots and all the players at his beck and call — succinctly and precisely. Here he is on the personas of various supporting players: “…for the comic parts (Everett Horton and Frank Morgan), or the ‘baddies’ (John Carradine and Joseph Calleia.) It was a bit like in the pantomime, where all the roles are predictable, so that reading the cast list I would already know that Billie Burke must be the somewhat dotty lady, Aubrey Smith the crusty colonel, Mischa Auer the penniless scrounge, Eugene Pallette the millionaire [and] the actor who always played the touchy hotel porter [or waiter] (Franklin Pangborn).”
(“A Cinema-goer’s Autobiography” in The Road to San Giovanni by Italo Calvino. New York, Pantheon Books, 1993.)
NEXT FRIDAY POST April 26
GET OUT AND GO TO THE MOVIES,
See you there,