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The Republic "Guest Star" Westerns

(From Old Corral collection)
Above - a 1954 re-release title lobby card.

In BELLS OF ROSARITA (Republic, 1945), Roy Rogers, Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers play themselves and they, along with the cast and crew, are filming the movie BELLS OF ROSARITA at a ranch and big top owned by Dale Evans. This is one of a dozen or two "filming a western movie within a western movie", and there's shots of the Republic lot, a camera truck, etc. ROSARITA is in glorious B&W - no Magnacolor or Trucolor.

Brains heavy Grant Withers and helper Roy Barcroft are scheming to take the properties from Dale. To help save the old homestead and circus, Roy calls on five of his Republic buddies to appear at a circus fund raiser ... and they also round up the no goods. The guest stars/heroes are Sunset Carson, Allan Lane and Wild Bill Elliott, all of whom had their own series when BELLS was filmed. Two others, Bob Livingston and Don Barry - billed as Robert Livingston and Donald Barry - were under Republic contracts at the time, but were not starring in any Republic series. Others in the cast included Gabby Hayes, pretty Adele Mara and the Robert Mitchell Boy Choir. The Mitchell Boy Choir appeared in a couple other Rogers westerns as well as many films and TV, including THE JOLSON STORY (Columbia, 1946).

ROSARITA has some humorous moments and dialog:

  • Sheriff Ed Cassidy is ready to arrest everybody in the circus parade that rides through town. But Roy and Gabby claim everything's legal as it's a funeral procession for "Oscar the Duck".
  • when Roy contacts his buddies, he finds that John Wayne isn't available cause he's out of town.
  • watch for Bob Nolan and Adele Mara doing a jitterbug.
  • Crooked Roy Barcroft delivers a great line of dialog to crooked Grant Withers when they discover their car is gone: "There must be some crooks around here!"
  • in the finale, Allan Lane shoots at a couple of baddies only to be reminded by Bob Livingston that "you're gonna do a lot of damage with those blanks". (But the henchies run out of bullets and surrender.)
  • and Wild Bill Elliott (in his Red Ryder outfit and riding "Thunder") reminds us again that "he's a peace-loving man" after landing a brutal right to Roy Barcroft's jaw.

The primary exterior location filming was done at the Iverson Movie Ranch. Released during the Summer of 1945, BELLS does have lots of music - perhaps too much - but it's a enjoyable western. And Dale does a nice job singing "Under A Blanket Of Blue".

Directing was Frank McDonald (1899-1980). He helmed Republics starring Roy, Gene Autry, the Weaver Brothers and Elviry, more. Later, he was the director on TV programs such as WILD BILL HICKOK and DEATH VALLEY DAYS as well as many for Gene Autry's Flying A Production company (GENE AUTRY SHOW, RANGE RIDER, ANNIE OAKLEY, BUFFALO BILL JR.).

  Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on BELLS OF ROSARITA (Republic, 1945):

(From Old Corral collection)

From L-to-R standing in the top row are Wild Bill Elliott, Allan Lane and Sunset Carson. From L-to-R kneeling are Bob Livingston (laughing), Roy Rogers, Don Barry and Dale Evans.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from left to right are Sunset Carson, Bob Livingston, Allan Lane, Dale Evans, Roy Rogers, Wild Bill Elliott and Don Barry.

(From Old Corral collection)

TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD (Republic, 1950) was Roy Rogers' final Trucolor western and he did five more starring films before exiting Republic and concentrating on his TV series. This is a great western and an old standby for viewing during the Christmas season.

Released in December, 1950, the story involves a bunch of crooks out to sabotage the Christmas tree farm owned by retired Hollywood movie star Jack Holt (who passed away from a heart attack on January 18, 1951 at the Los Angeles Veterans Hospital).

Roy is a government conservation officer and Gordon Jones is his sidekick "Splinters McGonigle". Includes the nice holiday tune "Everyday Is Christmas In The West" and musical assist is by Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage. The cast also includes Roy and Dale's daughter Cheryl Rogers who plays a young girl. No Dale Evans in this one - the leading lady is gorgeous Penny Edwards (who was the heroine in six of Roy's films). And there's youngster Carol Nugent who contacts Jack Holt's movie buddies to help get the Christmas trees to market.

Answering Nugent's call are: Allan "Rocky" Lane, Monte Hale, Kermit Maynard, Tom Keene, Tom Tyler, Ray "Crash" Corrigan, William Farnum, George Chesebro and Kermit Maynard. The highest priority on the guest list and credits went to Rex Allen, Republic's newest western star.

The ending has a bunch of wagons hauling Christmas trees ... and there's a burning bridge. Can't go wrong with this fast-paced film which was superbly directed by William "Bill" Witney. Primary exterior location filming was done at Big Bear Lake and the Cedar Lake dam above Big Bear.

I always get a chuckle when prolific baddie George Chesebro shows up and is temporarily shunned by the movie cowboys ... until he says to Carol Nugent that "after making twenty pictures with Jack Holt, he reformed me Honey." By the way, Chesebro introduces himself as "Hi boys ... I'm George Chesebro" (and he pronounces his last name as Cheese bro).

  Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD (Republic, 1950):

(From Old Corral collection)

In the lobby card above are, from L-to-R: Allan "Rocky" Lane, Monte Hale, Kermit Maynard, Tom Keene, Tom Tyler, Penny Edwards, youngster Carol Nugent, Roy Rogers, Gordon Jones, and on the white horse is Ray "Crash" Corrigan (with his hand on Tyler's shoulder).

(From Old Corral collection)

Back Row from L-to-R: Tom Tyler, Ray 'Crash' Corrigan, Allan 'Rocky' Lane, Monte Hale, George Chesebro, Kermit Maynard.
Kneeling from L-to-R: Tom Keene, Roy Rogers, William Farnum.
Not pictured are Jack Holt and Rex Allen.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Monte Hale's third starring Republic oater was the Trucolor OUT CALIFORNIA WAY (Republic, 1946) and was another film about "shootin' a western movie within a western movie". John Dehner plays an egotistical cowboy hero named "Rod Mason", who, along with his flunky, great stuntman Fred Graham, do their darndest to foil Monte's attempts to get into cowboy movies produced by Globe Pictures. There's a subplot with Robert "Bobby" Blake trying to get his trusty hoss "Pardner" into films. Monte plays himself and is backed by lovely Adrian Booth, Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage, the St. Luke's Episcopal Church Choristers ... and guest appearances by Roy Rogers, Trigger, Dale Evans, Allan Lane and Donald Barry.

The primary exterior location filming was at Iversons.

Released in December, 1946, OUT CALIFORNIA WAY was helmed by Lesley Selander (1900-1979). His lengthy career included directing over two dozen Hopalong Cassidy adventures and over half of the post World War II Tim Holts at RKO. In the mid 1940s when this Hale entry was done, Selander was on Republic's payroll, directing westerns with Sunset Carson, Allan Lane and Gene Autry.

The title song "Out California Way" is one of my favorite western tunes.

  Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on OUT CALIFORNIA WAY (Republic, 1946):

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