The Old Corral (1936)

Genres - Crime, Drama, Western  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Western  |   Release Date - Dec 21, 1936 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 54 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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A typical Gene Autry everything-but-the-kitchen-sink musical Western, The Old Corral featured the spectacle of Autry getting robbed at gunpoint by his future rival, Roy Rogers. Rogers, who was then known as Dick Weston, and his fellow highwaymen (the singing group the Sons of the Pioneers) go about their illegal activities like true gentlemen, of course, refusing to rob female passengers Nora Cecil and Hope Manning. The latter, playing Eleanor Spencer, is wanted by both the authorities and the Chicago mob after witnessing gangster Mike Scarlotti (John Bradford) murder rival Tony Pearl (Buddy Roosevelt). En route to Los Angeles by Greyhound bus, she hooks up with small town saloon owner Martin Simms (Cornelius Keefe) who offers her a job singing in his Turquoise City establishment. Both Simms and Turquoise City sheriff Gene Autry, however, recognize Eleanor as the key witness in the Pearl murder case and the former is quick to notify Scarlotti. Arriving to silence the girl for good, the Chicago mobsters are met by Sheriff Autry, Deputy Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette), and their erstwhile prisoners, the O'Keefe brothers (Rogers, Bob Nolan, and the Sons of the Pioneers, the brothers having taken a break from harmonizing in their cell). The outcome, of course, is a given and the entire gang is soon behind bars. Milburn Morante, a veteran silent screen comedian who was rarely very funny, is actually amusing this time around as a farmer with car troubles, and Lon Chaney Jr. is well cast as Simms' lumbering henchman. Leading lady Hope Manning later signed with Warner Bros., changed her name to Irene Manning, and starred as Fay Templeton opposite James Cagney's George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). Aside from all the aforementioned pleasures, The Old Corral is probably the only chance to see silent screen cowboy star Buddy Roosevelt playing a tuxedo-clad mobster.

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Keywords

criminal, chase, danger, gangster, investigation, killing, murder, on-the-run, outlaw [Western], runaway [from home], sheriff, songwriter, witness