The setting is a small theater in Orlando.  The year is 1984.

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Junior.

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Senior.

In this recording of the performance, they appear on the same stage but never at the same time.  The Sons of the Pioneers are all over this thing.  Sr. sings “Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds.”  Jr. sings this song:

When I was just a little boy I learned to call the cows

From Eddie Arnold singing strong about the Cattle Call

And I’ll never forget the Pioneer’s singing

‘See Them Tumbling Down’ 

Well, I think it’s time that we put Western Back in the Country sound

Ev’ry time that I hear Rex sing about his ‘Arizona Sky’

Or Roy and Dale’s “Happy Trails”. They always bring a sigh!

My throat gets tight then the tears come

See them tumbling down

But, I think it’s time that we put Western Back in the Country sound.

Hear those Pioneers Singing ’bout cool, clear water

While they’re headin’ for the last roundup …

Yes, I think it’s time that we put Western Back in the Country sound.

Oh, how I wish that I could be ‘Back In The Saddle’ with Gene

But days like that I live again “Only in my dreams”

And when I hear Tex sing ‘High Noon’

My heart comes tumbling down

Well, I think it’s time that we put Western Back in the Country sound. 

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(No longer) singing cowboy Rex Allen stars in this 1958 TV series.  As Dr. Bill Baxter, Rex Allen puts away the vocal chops and picks up a doctor’s bag — using medicine to rid the West of all sorts of evil.

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How?  Like this:

Wherever in the Southwest Desperadoes rode, Death rode with them.  Death with also epidemics of disease that scourged the area.  Sometimes Desperado and Epidemic rode together and Death triumphantly led the way.  For the sake of the community, one courageous man, who feared neither Desperado or Epidemic, challenged them both and the gaunt spectre that rode with them.  Rex Allen stars as THE FRONTIER DOCTOR!

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Or this way:

In the Southwest, at the turn of the century, ruthless gangs of outlaws pillaged and robbed at will.  With utter contempt for the lives of all but their own, they terrorized everyone, sometimes entire communities.  Due to the quiet courage of a fearless man, the reign of terror of such a gang was ended.  Rex Allen stars as THE FRONTIER DOCTOR!

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Sometimes like a cowboy hero.

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But generally not.

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The Arizona Cowboy deserved a better TV vehicle.  After this, Rex’s film and TV work was primarily as a narrator, often for Walt Disney.  Dude did have a great voice but I think he could have shone as an actor in some decent films.  He had a striking look which you can’t see in these lousy screen-grabs — check out this previous post about the man.

Rex Allen looks like a lot of people — former Daily Show host Craig Kilborn, movie icon Alan Ladd and even Inception‘s Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

He was a rodeo star who entered the game late, making his feature debut in 1950.  He would make 19 films for Republic in the next five years.  The final film would be 1954 “Phantom Stallion” which is arguably the last Singing Cowboy western film.  This makes him the Last of the Singing Cowboys.

Though Allen disavowed his first film as a “turkey”, he was stuck with the moniker “The Arizona Cowboy” for the rest of his (short) career.  And it’s not a bad picture.  Rex plays a rodeo rider just back stateside from a three year tour of South America and Australia.  His dad has been framed for robbery and sabotage so he heads down to Dusty Acres (Iverson Ranch) to investigate.

An early shot of Allen is a cool echo of the Ringo Kid’s introduction in “Stagecoach” — a tracking shot through a truck’s windshield up on Allen standing in the middle of the road holding his suitcase and waving over his head just like Wayne did it.

Rex Allen appears to be a natural actor.  He would have hardly spent any time on set before this film, and yet he’s already sure-footed and easy.  He’s also real natural handling horses and the producers wisely use this in crafting the story.  There is a small bit of business where Allen calms a wild horse by rubbing him with a stick.  That’s production value that you can’t buy with money.

Allen also famously provided his own horse and wardrobe.  Republic apparently paid him $500 a picture for the rental of said.

Rex sings three songs in his agile baritone and does some yodeling as well.

Starrett fans will recognize Edmund Cobb in the role of Sheriff Fuller.  He shared the screen with Charles on 47 occasions, from his first western, 1935’s “Gallant Defender” to one of his last, 1951’s “Cyclone Fury.”

There is a lame Haunted House ending with a eerie organ accompaniment that seems out of a different film all together.

But all in all “The Arizona Cowboy” is not a bad debut for this movie cowboy.