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 2015, the Autry National Center 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 at the museum in the Imagination Gallery's Western Legacy Theater.
Gene Autry was the star of 89 movies with the first half of his on screen career at Republic Pictures between 1935 and 1947. All of his movies feature Gene's trademark music, comedy and action with the Republics heavy on the music. There are eleven music performances – plus a sing-a-long medley of 8 songs – in Git Along Little Dogies. Then Smiley Burnette, Walter Shrum and His Colorado Hillbillies, the Stafford Sisters, the Maple City Four, and of course Gene provide the music in The Old Barn Dance.
With the new exhibition Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West, this month's Double Feature finds Gene Autry in the Civil War era. In the first film, Indian Territory, Gene is a sergeant in the post-Civil War Cavalry who tangles with a renegade Austrian who wants to use the Indians to build himself an empire in America. Then in Silver Canyon, Gene is a U.S. Army scout during the Civil War who must bring in a notorious gang of Confederate guerrilla raiders who are interfering with federal supply lines. Both films star leading lady Gail Davis, comic sidekick Pat Buttram, and Champion, World's Wonder Horse.
A popular plot point in Gene Autry's musical Westerns from the 1930s is Gene's mistaken identity. In Oh, Susanna! an escaped convict knocks out radio star Gene Autry and swaps clothes with him, making the authorities believe that Gene is the criminal. Then in Rootin Tootin Rhythm Gene and his pal Frog Millhouse are after cattle rustlers and become mixed up in a comedy of errors when they don the clothes of two dead outlaws, only to learn that the outlaws are really dead sheriffs, dressed in outlaw's clothes!
Theme: Columbia Pictures
Barbed Wire (1952)
Pack Train (1953)
Columbia Pictures (62 minutes)
Columbia Pictures (57 minutes)
Gene Autry was the star of 89 movies with the latter half of his on screen career at Columbia Pictures between 1947 and 1953. All of his movies feature Gene’s trademark music, comedy, and action with the Columbias heavy on the action. With the help of Pat Buttram and the Cass County Boys in Barbed Wire, Gene’s at his rip-roaring best ripping down those barbed-wire barricades. Then Smiley Burnette and Gail Davis are along for the ride in Pack Train as food hijackers get it in the old breadbasket when Gene wipes out the badmen starving out the new settlers!
Get into the spooky spirit of the season with a pair of ghost-themed Westerns from 1949 that find Gene Autry searching for the truth behind the eerie legends. When Champion is stolen in Rim of the Canyon, clues lead Gene to a ghost town where he finds a lovely schoolteacher who claims to have talked to a ghost. Then Gene's an investigator in Riders in the Sky, and with the help of his sidekick Pat Buttram, he tries to clear an innocent man of murder and track down the ghost riders in the sky.
Tune up for the holidays with these two films as you sing along with Gene Autry. Man from Music Mountain finds Gene with Smiley Burnette singing fun Western songs and The Cowboy and the Indians features Gene's iconic Christmas tune "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)."