Other Cowboy Stars — Roy Rogers in “Down Dakota Way”
January 28, 2011
When he was still calling himself Leonard Slye, Roy Rogers appeared in a couple of Charles Starrett’s films as a member of the musical group Sons of The Pioneers. In 1951, right around when Starrett was hanging up his spurs, Rogers made the move to TV with “The Roy Rogers Show.”
In between, he made pictures like “Frontier Pony Express” and, in 1949, this one.
“Down Dakota Way” features a mature Rogers, a sure-footed cowboy star comfortable in front of the camera. It also features ALOT of re-used footage from a previous Rogers vehicle? I can’t figure which one it is. A little help?
Another former Sons of the Pioneers band-member, Pat Brady, plays the comic relief. Brady learnt his comic stylings from the worst, Mr. Smiley Burnette. Here, he’s doing a recycled Burnette bit, taking a correspondence course in detecting. Brady would do 35 films with Rogers before joining him on his long-running TV show. That’s him mugging in the yellow hat.
The plot involves a former schoolteacher of Rogers’ and her errant son. Roy plays Roy Rogers, who is on his way to a Wild West show in Cheyenne. It’s set in the modern day, but Roy and co. still travel by horse.
Montie Montana plays Sheriff Holbrook. Montana was a rodeo star who appeared in a couple dozen westerns, mostly in uncredited roles. Besides his debut in “Circle of Death”, this is perhaps his meatiest character. He’s filled out a bit since that film and retains his authentic drawl and ease in the saddle. He also benefits from the much higher budget of this film (“Circle of Death” was pure Poverty Row.) He looks good in color, actually Trucolor ©.