Watch Melody Ranch
With a longer-than-usual running time on original release and booked and sold to the exhibitors as a “Gene Autry Special”, which Republic would do once a year from 1939-1943 in order to get higher rates than on the regular series entries from the theatre owners. Hey, Jimmy Durante and Ann Miler cost more than Smiley Burnette and June Storey. This “special”,(which alternates between tongue-in-cheek and for-real and hard to distinguish which is which since there was very little for-real in most of the fantasy-land settings Autry’s Republic films were laid in), finds Gene returning to his hometown of Torpedo as guest of honor at the Frontier Days Celebraion, Once there, he encounters his childhood enemies, the Wildhack brothers (Barton MacLane, Joe Sawyer and Horace MacMahon in pecking order), now the local gangsters (and playing it with relish.) The Wildhacks own a saloon next door to the school, and when their shooting and brawling endangers the safety of the children, Gene protests and threatens to expose them during his next radio broadcast. The Wildhacks stop the broadcast and beat Gene up. Gene, humiliated because Hollywood life has softened him to the extent that he can’t hold his own against three assailants, decides to remain in Torpedo and get into shape again. He is encouraged by his friend Cornelius J. “Corney” Courtney, and also by Pop Laramie, owner and operator of the local version of the “Toonerville Trolley.” Since Gene refuses to return to Hollywood, his radio show now originates from Torpedo. Julie Sheldon, a débutante with theatrical aspirations, sees Gene in his natural setting, and begins to take an interest in the cowboy she formerly scorned. Gene avenges himself against the Wildhacks by rounding them up, whipping them single-handed and forcing them to sing on his broadcast. Enraged, the brothers are determined to “get” Gene. He, in turn, runs for sheriff so he will be in position to clean up the Wildhack political machine and use can be made of the “Vote For Autry” song. During the battles that ensue, one of Gene’s friends is killed. Gene finally obtains evidence which labels the Wildhacks as killers.