Riding High (1943)

Genres - Musical, Western  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Western  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

In 1943, Hollywood was still annually churning out dozens of musicals like Riding High, little tuners that existed for no reason other than to allow a few musical performers the chance to sing a few songs, with perhaps an eye to getting some of those tunes on the Hit Parade. Plot was strictly secondary to these outings, and that is Riding's biggest problem -- it feels as if the plot was made up on the spot, and not made up in an inspired, anything goes fashion; more like a tired, "think of something to do so we can get to the next number" fashion. This damages Riding to a considerable degree. It wouldn't matter quite so much if the songs that these pointless scenes lead up to were worth the wait. But, despite some very good (and some not-so-good- lyrics from Johnny Mercer, the songs fail to deliver much punch, largely because the music is serviceable at best and bland at worst. Dorothy Lamour and Dick Powell put a lot into mnaking tehse songs work; Cass Daley does even more, but goes far too far and comes across as intensely annoying. Many will find Gil Lamb's demolishing the orchestra bit funny, but others will find it repetitive and boring.