Bells of Capistrano
In his final film before entering war service, Gene Autry joins the World Wide Wild West Show, a faltering enterprise about to be taken over by the more powerful Johnson Bros. Rodeo, and his success as the Singing Bronco Buster allows the show to open at San Capistrano instead of the rival outfit. Stag Johnson (Morgan Conway), who is sweet on World Wide's owner Jennifer Benton (Virginia Grey), is inclined to leave things as they are but brother Jed (Tristram Coffin) and jealous show girl Jackie Laval (Marla Shelton) do what they can to sabotage the competition, including forcing Mom (Claire DuBrey) and Pop McCracken (Lucien Littlefield), Jennifer's foster-parents, off the road. Gene at first blames himself for all the troubles but then joins sidekicks Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette) and Tadpole (Joe Stracuh, Jr.) in battling the increasingly desperate Johnson brothers. When not rescuing the heroine from runaway buckboards and other such Wild West shenanigans, Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Joe Strauch, Jr. and company perform "In Old Capistrano," "At Sundown," "Forgive Me," "Don't Bite the Hand That's Feeding You," and "Fort Worth Jail." According to some reports, Bells of Capistrano), which was produced on an impressive budget of $500,000, employed two camera crews in order to finish principal photography prior to Autry's induction into the Army Air Force. Gene Autry Entertainment restored the film to its original length in 2001.