For the second half of today Abbott and Costello double-feature, we have the boys’ 1942 comedy Ride ‘Em Cowboy!
At a benefit rodeo, singing cowboy and writer Bronco Bob Mitchell (Dick Foran) finds himself in trouble: reporter Martin Manning (Charles Lane) has tried to out him as a fake, so he tries to ride a horse (and succeeds) while singing. However, behind the scenes, Bob runs into trouble when food vendors Duke (Bud Abbott) and Willoughby (Lou Costello) accidentally let a bull loose while they are trying to hide from their boss. Bob is rescued by rodeo rider Anne Shaw (Anne Gwynne), although she is injured wrestling the bull down. Bob feels terrible, especially since she is disillusioned about him as well as losing the opportunity to win the $10,000 grand prize and good publicity for her father’s ranch. Against his manager’s wishes, Bob decides to go to her father’s ranch, the Lazy “S,” hoping to learn from Anne so that he isn’t a fake. Duke and Willoughby also finds themselves at the Lazy “S” ranch, where they find new work as well, although on the way, Willoughby accidentally gets himself engaged to Indian girl Moonbeam. Bob finds himself in trouble again when he finds out that Martin Manning has entered him in the local charity rodeo, so he really needs Anne’s help! When he finds out that Anne’s father bet a lot of money on the Lazy “S” team to win, Bob bets a lot of money against the team, hoping he will help them win, except the bookie misinterprets the bet and attempts to help prevent the win. Meanwhile, Duke and Willoughby keep running into trouble with the Indians hounding them over Willoughby’s upcoming “bow and arrow” (or, otherwise translated, shotgun) wedding.
Like I said earlier, Ride ‘Em Cowboy was intended to be released earlier, but the success of the first two Abbott and Costello service comedies resulted in them rushing Keep ‘Em Flying into production and getting it out earlier. Abbott and Costello are joined by Dick Foran in what I can only assume might have been a sendup of his “singing cowboy” image (I haven’t seen any of his films beyond the three with Abbott and Costello, so I wouldn’t know for sure), and western star Johnny Mack Brown as Alabama Brewster, Anne’s boyfriend and ranch foreman. The movie was actually shot at the B-Bar A and Rancho Chihuahua dude ranches, giving it more of an authentic feel.
For me, this was an improvement over Keep ‘Em Flying. Abbott and Costello were given more to do here, including their comedy routines “Poker Game,” “Heard Of Cows” and “Crazy House,” plus other comedic moments including a big chase scene at the end as the Indians chase Abbott and Costello to the rodeo, plus a moment where Moonbeam’s brother, Jake Rainwater (as played by Douglas Dumbrille), takes the place of a wooden dummy made by the other ranch hand’s to scare Lou’s Willoughby. Admittedly, I have some issues with the way “Crazy House” was filmed, since it was done as a dream sequence, and it is constantly interrupted by shots of Lou sleeping (we get it! He’s sleeping! Just let us watch the dream!). In place of the Andrews Sisters in the position of “singing group who sings songs but doesn’t really seem to have much to do with the plot” is the Merry Macs (although their songs are rather forgettable). However, we do have Ella Fitzgerald making her film debut, singing her 1938 hit song “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” which is probably the only memorable tune in the film. Not Abbott and Costello’s absolute best movie, but it’s FAR from their worst and still a fun one worth recommending!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory as part of the 28-film The Complete Abbott & Costello Universal Pictures Collection, and is one hour, twenty-six minutes in length.
My Rating: 8/10
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