It's Gene Autry's birthday, and I feel back in the saddle after yesterdays lame job of a post.
It's been 102 years since Gene Autry was born in 1907. And we could still use him.
The era of "The Singin' Cowboy" was before my time. It only lasted from the mid 1930's until the late 1940's, maybe 15 years at the most. Gene Autry and Roy Rogers continued to have great success through the 1950's, especially on television, but the "singin'" part was mostly gone by then and they were mainly "B" westerns for the kiddie set.
If you've never treated yourself, there's plenty of the stuff available out there on DVD. Here's basically what you get:
1. Gene, Smiley Burnette and a bunch of cowboys are on a cattle drive singing in choral harmony about the joys of hard working. Then they find there's some trouble any one of the following will do. The heir to the ranch they're working on is a playgirl spending the profits, hoods representing the cattle buyers are scheming to undercut the price, the sheep rancher next door owns the water-rights to the brazing land and won't let the cows in, someone finds mineral rights on the ranch and tries to put Gene's boss out of business.
2. Gene gets in a quick fistfight.
3. Gene meets a girl and sings to her.
4. The bad-guys ambush Gene, but he kicks their butts.
5. Gene sings another song to the girl.
That's it! And all told in about 65 minutes. At the Saturday matinee back int he day you;d get a double feature of two of these. Gene always won because he was doing what was right. There was justice in the world.
All you needed to do was do what's right. And it helped if you sang a song, had a smart horse and a not-so-smart sidekick.
Another reason Gene gets a cool guy award, is the above movie serial.
The movie serial was a way of getting the kiddies to flock back to your theatre week after week. Part of the playbill was a serialized adventure story, continued week to week after a cliffhanger ending. The setting would be anything from a Western, a jungle film, science fiction, a comic book/newspaper strip/pulp fiction hero...whatever would catch the kiddies' eyes and imaginations.
Gene Autry's first ever screen appearance was as the star of "The Phantom Empire"
(think George Lucas ever saw this?). This one had everything. A singing cowboy, robots, bad guys after a mysterious radioactive metal and a futuristic city 20,000 feet underground ruled by a beautiful woman. GOD THAT'S GOOD SHIT!!!
Oh yeah. And he owned a baseball team too. boooooorrrrrrrrring!
I'm still trying to do what's right, like Gene, hoping that I may win one day.
And whenever the world smacks me around, I sing a song. It makes people look at you funny sometimes, but I know I'm winning.