Musical Monday: Trail of Robin Hood (1950)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Trail of Robin Hood (1950) – Musical #642

Republic Pictures

William Witney

Roy Rogers, Trigger, Penny Edwards, Gordon Jones, Clifton Young, Emory Parnell, Ed Cassidy, Carol Nugent, Bullet the Dog, Foy Willing, Cheryl Rogers (uncredited), Ralph Bucko (uncredited), Roy Bucko (uncredited), Lane Bradford (uncredited)
As themselves: Jack Holt, Rex Allen, Allan “Rocky” Lane, Monte Hale, William Farnum, Tom Tyler, Ray Corrigan, Kermit Maynard, Tom Keene, George Chesebro

Actor Jack Holt (himself) is spending his retirement from films running a Christmas tree farm. His goal is to sell the trees at a low rate so all children can have a holiday tree. The problem is a competing Christmas tree farm, owned by J. Corwin Aldridge (Parnell), tries to put Holt out of business so they can beat him to market – his low prices will cause people not to buy their trees. Soil conservationist Roy Rogers (himself) comes to help Holt, and Aldridge’s daughter Toby (Edwards) arrives to work about Rogers and Holt.

• Many of the lead actors are playing themselves, including Jack Holt, Allan “Rocky” Lane, Monte Hale, William Farnum, Tom Tyler, Ray Corrigan, Kermit Maynard, Tom Keene, George Chesebro
• Roy Rogers’s daughter Cheryl Rogers makes a brief appearance in the film, asking Jack Holt for his autograph.
• Brothers Ralph and Roy Bucko acted in this film together.
• Filmed in the San Bernardino Mountains and at Big Bear Lake in California.
• Roy Rogers’s last film to be shot in TruColor.

Western stars making a cameo in “Trail of Robin Hood”

• Trucolor cinematography

Notable Songs:
• “Home Town Jubilee” performed by Roy Rogers and The Riders of the Purple Sage
• “Ev’ry Day Is Christmas Day In the West” performed by Roy Rogers and The Riders of the Purple Sage
• “Get a Christmas Tree For Johnny” performed by Roy Rogers, Penny Edwards and The Riders of the Purple Sage

My review:
I will go ahead and clear the air — this film plot and the title don’t match. There are no references to Robin Hood, and Roy Rogers doesn’t steal from the rich and give to the poor.

Despite the confusing title, this is a charming film fit to put you in the holiday frame of mind.

Set in modern times, western actor Jack Holt plays himself. In the film, he has retired from films, and his retirement job is owning a Christmas tree farm. Holt’s mission for the trees is to sell them for a few cents, so all children can have a tree during the holidays.

But a competing organization isn’t a fan of Holt’s goodwill project, because they know they won’t sell any trees due to his cheap prices. They work to put him out of business, so they have no competition in the tree business.

What a fun movie this is! There is nothing deep or philosophical here — it’s just pure fun and visually gorgeous.

Roy Rogers is his usual charming self, and we get to hear him sing – this time with The Riders of the Purple Sage rather than The Sons of the Pioneers. All of the songs are cheerful and could be added to your Christmas playlist — “Every Day is Christmas in the West” and “Get a Christmas Tree For Johnny.”

John Holt is so charming and still very handsome. Sadly, this is one of his last films, as he died a year later. I think it’s entertaining that Holt plays himself.

Holt isn’t the only one who plays himself. When Holt’s trees need to be delivered, and the bad guys are preventing it, a bevy of Holt’s film star cowboy friends come to town to help — all playing themselves. These include: Allan “Rocky” Lane, Monte Hale, William Farnum, Tom Tyler, Ray Corrigan, Kermit Maynard, Tom Keene and George Chesebro.

Each arrives, introduces themselves, helps get a bad guy to confess, and then drives the trees into town. While this is considered a cameo, the actors also get to perform a little too.

My only complaint about the film is that the beginning is a little confusing. The bad guys steal Jack Holt’s trees, and he is relatively cool about it. The plot gets more clear as you continue, but I thought that was pretty confusing.

“Trail of Robin Hood” is filmed in gorgeous TruColor, making it very bright and colorful. At a brisk 67 minutes, it’s fun and cheerful.

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