Saturday matinee Double Features (the screening of two motion pictures for the price of one) were an industry standard in the first half of the 20th century. In 2018, the Autry Museum of the American West continues the tradition with its own Saturday matinee Double Features starring America's Favorite Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry. On the fourth Saturday of every other month, two Gene Autry films are screened in the museum's Wells Fargo Theater.
Gene Autry was the star of 89 movies with the first half of his big screen career at Republic Pictures between 1935 and 1947. All of his Westerns feature Gene's trademark music, comedy, and action with the Republics heavy on the music. Gene brings his hit song to life in South of the Border (1939) and there are eight musical numbers in Gaucho Serenade (1940). Be sure to sing-along with Gene, Mary Lee, and Smiley Burnette in this Double Feature!
Columbia Pictures (71 minutes)
Gene Autry was the star of 89 movies with the second half of his big screen career at Columbia Pictures between 1947 and 1953. All of his Westerns feature Gene's trademark music, comedy, and action with the Columbia's heavy on the action. Smiley Burnette, Gail Davis, and Champion are along for the ride with Gene in Whirlwind (1951) and On Top of Old Smoky (1953).
Gene Autry's Westerns are known for their music, comedy, and action. The Big Show (1936) is a story of mistaken identity filmed at the Texas Centennial and full of music not only from Gene and his pal Smiley but also from the Light Crust Dough Boys, the Jones Boys, and the Sons of the Pioneers. There's comedy and action aplenty when Gene encounters complications with girlfriends, studio executives, and gangsters. Then the Cass County Boys and Gene bring the music to Twilight on the Rio Grande (1947) while Sterling Holloway brings the comic relief. Action happens when Gene investigates a murder that leads him to Mexico and a jewelry smuggling ring!
The majority of Gene Autry's musical B Westerns were filmed in Southern California with the rare exception of a few filmed in Arizona. This month's Double Feature showcases two films where the landscape of the West plays an important visual role. The Last Round-Up (1947) was Gene Autry's first film with Columbia Pictures and was filmed in Old Tuscon, Arizona. His very next film for Columbia, The Strawberry Roan (1948), was filmed in the three color Cinecolor process and shot on location in Sedona, Arizona. Both films were well received by audiences and are sure to be a hit today in this Double Feature screening.
Every Gene Autry fan knows that his movies have music, comedy, and action as well as a lovely leading lady, a humorous sidekick, and of course Gene's horse Champion. Over time the key elements of his movies remained the same but with a different twist. Most notably the pre-World War II films, such as Public Cowboy No. 1 (1937) took place in contemporary times with humorous songs from sidekick Smiley Burnette and included a strong, independent leading lady. Post-war films like The Old West (1952) often took place in the past with fewer songs that often had a religious theme and the leading lady was in a more passive role. Little Champ even joins the World's Wonder Horse, Champion in this film. Our Double Feature this month will let you compare what is "the same but different" in these two popular Gene Autry B Westerns.
Discover why Gene Autry is known as "America's Favorite Signing Cowboy" in this month's Double Feature. In Rovin' Tumbleweeds (1939) Gene goes to Washington DC to aid his town with a flood control bill only to find he has a lot to learn. This is the film debut of Gene's iconic song "Back in the Saddle Again." Then in The Cowboy and the Indians (1949) rancher Gene attempts to aid neighboring Navajos suffering from malnutrition. This is the only film with his hit Christmas song "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)."