Saturday, August 14, 2010

Worth 1,000 Words: MONTE HALE, ROCKY LANE & ROY ROGERS


By Steve Crum

Not only do you get three super cowboys for the price of one in 1950's Republic B-western, TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD, but you get double that...triple that! Yep, pardners, the budget was sky high for this Christmas release of nearly 60 years ago. The plot of the ROY ROGERS vehicle involves "The King of the Cowboys" on the lookout for **gulp** Christmas tree thieves. They are hell bent on a green monopoly by absconding with JACK HOLT'S grade-A quality pines and firs. Riding into town to help drive the Christmas trees to market, as well as beat up the thieves, are Republic Pictures cowboys REX ALLEN, TOM KEENE, WILLIAM FARNUM (actually he was a cowboy star in silent films), KERMIT MAYARD, GEORGE CHESEBRO (who plays bad guys, but is good this time around), MONTE HALE, ROCKY LANE, CRASH CORRIGAN, and TOM TYLER. Roy sings "Every Day is Christmas in the West."
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The studio publicity photo (top of page) includes three of the movie's star cowpokes, posing on the set: (from left) MONTE HALE, born Samuel Buren Ely (June 8, 1919-March 29, 2009); ALLAN "ROCKY " LANE, born Harry Leonard Albershart (Sept. 20, 1909-Oct. 27, 1973); and ROY ROGERS aka Leonard Slye (Nov. 5, 1911-July 6, 1998). [from Steve Crum's showbiz memorabilia collection]
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Roy was always surrounded with the best of the best sidekicks, heroines, and musicians West of the Pecos, including Dale Evans (his wife and frequent leading lady), Gabby Hayes, Smiley Burnette, Pat Brady, Andy Devine, The Sons of the Pioneers, The Riders of the Purple Sage, Bullet, Nellybelle, and Trigger.
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Rocky's cowboy career lasted until the mid-1950's when TV had emptied the cowboy B-movie corral. He had played Red Ryder, was featured in action-packed serials, and starred as both Allan Lane and Rocky Lane. His faithful steed Blackjack was always with him. Incidentally, Rocky NEVER sang in any of his movies. His forte was serious action with plenty of knuckle fights and gun play. Lane had two noteworthy jobs after hanging up his spurs, starring in a classic Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode, "Lamb to the Slaughter," and as the voice of Mr. Ed, TV's popular talking horse.
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Monte Hale's death last year meant that the last of Republic's cowboy stars was history. Although Monte sang in some of his films, he was not primarily known as a singing cowboy. At the time of his death, he and his wife were managing the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, which they also founded. Monte's last film role was in the modern day western Giant, 1956.
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Here is the scene from "Trail of Robin Hood" wherein all the guest star cowboys arrive to help Roy Rogers and Jack Holt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzldGlSuKHY

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