Sunday, September 16, 2007

Round-Up Time in Texas

This was on the Western Channel this afternoon. I complained about the problems with 3:10 to Yuma, and then I watched this. Good grief. What can I tell you?

Let's start with the title. You'd think the movie was about Texas, right? And maybe a round-up. You poor fool. That shows how little you know. See, the deal is that Gene gets a telegram from his brother, Tex. Tex has discovered a diamond mine in South Africa and needs 50 horses. (I have no idea why.) Seems that he can't get any horses in Africa, or any place closer than Texas. (I have no idea why.) So Gene takes the horses to Africa, where the picture is set.

And speaking of "set," one of the many amazing things about this movie is that the African landscape looks exactly like the landscape of the west as seen in dozens of Republic westerns. If kids who saw this movie were confused in geography class, there's a good reason why.

We probably shouldn't even speak of racial stereotyping, other than to say that it's rampant. There's plenty here to offend just about everybody. I'm not talking about the singing, though. That's pretty good, and of course it includes the title song. Well, there is the scene where Frog (Smiley Burnette) teaches the native youngsters to sing and in which they set the world's record for learning English.

If you thought Phantom Empire was goofy, but you enjoyed it anyway, you should see this.

9 comments:

Richard Heft said...

To celebrate Gene Autry's 100th birthday on September 29, the Autry Museum Of The American West is showing - THE PHANTOM EMPIRE in its entirety! I was hoping for a fireworks display and maybe a music festival, but instead I get -- THE PHANTOM EMPIRE.

There's a Hopalong Cassidy movie with Hoppy going to Morocco, and I'm betting Morocco looks quite a bit like Lone Pine, CA.

Bill Crider said...

I have to confess that I own Phantom Empire on DVD.

gomer said...

I'm 64 so i aint just some kid wise ass bein' a troublemaker. fact is, when i WAS a kid, gene autrey gave me the creeps. he was about as likeable to a little kid wantiing to see a western hero as a car dealer. he was cylindrical and had this kind of flat, unexercized ass. hey, call me gay, what can i say, he was a pastey, donut eating dullard. i cannot image why he became popular. but i bet there's a story behind it. hopalong cassidy was just plain mean. he was always berating his sidekick. he just did not seem like a nice guy. now, roy rogers, he was great. totally fit, totally energetic, totally likeable. wild bill hickock was cool too. he wasnt mean to his sidekick but you could tell he thought he was a dope. roy rogers seems like he was patiently enduring his sidekick. gene autrey's sidekick was even more misshapen than autrey as i recall. i dont know how the both of them managed to stop so many fiersome enemies. they both looked like cookie dough in a warm pan.

Bill Crider said...

Gene's pretty slender in this one. He did get a bit chunky later on, though.

Richard Heft said...

It wasn't doughnuts. Autry was a heavy drinker, so much so that his performing career was affected by it. Falling off his horse during a promotional appearance at a rodeo was Gene's wake-up call -- not to stop drinking, but to stop appearing in public!

TM said...

Depending on your POV, Rogers tops that. He used to, I'm told by my ex-FAA-in-Alaska parents, hire pilots to take him under the radar into Siberia so he could shoot bears from the plane (such activity already frowned upon in Alaska in the '60s), and then come back and "shack up" for a while with a woman of one of the native nations...presumably while Dale was at home preparing one or another of her sermons or inspirational books.

My father as a kid was more the Lash LaRue fan, despite noting later on how fey the performances were (leaving aside the concept). THE CRIMSON SKULL remains a rosy (ahem) childhood memory.

gomer said...

if what tm says is true roy rogers is even cooler than i thought.

moni said...

I actually watched this movie and it was very funny. And, after Gene got a quick look at his brother (who had disappeard), he never talked to him or acknowledged him even though he traveled all the way to the Cape. The Lion was hilarious, just a movie shot of a lion coming toward the camera. The little kids did sound good. This was a very funny film.

Bill Crider said...

I agree, moni. Too bad it wasn't supposed to be funny.