Song of the Gringo (1936)
For Tex Ritter’s first starring film Producer Edward Finney and director J.P.McCarthy chose to do a remake of a 1930’s “Oklahoma Cyclone” which McCarthy had directed and Wellyn Totman wrote. McCarthy brought Totman’s original along, Robert Tansey adapted it and he and McCarthy shared story and screenplay credit, and Finney added ex-outlaw Al Jennings name to it for whatever value it may have added. (“Very little” Finney wrote in a 1976 letter.) The story differs little (since “Oklahoma Cyclone” also had several songs, including the mincing “He a Lavender Cowboy” which died a quick deserved death in the first version) in that a young U.S.Deputy Marshal (Tex Ritter) hunting for his missing father, poses as a wanted outlaw and is chased by a posse into the rancho hacienda of Don Estaban Valle (Martin Garralaga) where he takes refuge in the bedroom of Lolita Valle (Joan Woodbury), the Don’s daughter. She hides him from the searching sheriff (Monte Blue) and Evans (Ted Adams) the manager of her father’s mining properties. Evans knows he is hiding there but does not tell the sheriff as he has use for an outlaw. All of the ranch hands are members of the gang Evans has put together to acquire mines by any method, unknown to Don Valle, and Evans hires Tex to become part of the gang. But Tex sings a couple of songs that disgust head henchie Cherokee (Warner Richmond), who thinks he is a “sissy” but Lolita thinks otherwise and in very impressed and taken with Tex. Evans is also displeased as he has designs on Lolita himself, and tells Cherokee to get rid of Tex in a rigged gunfight, but Tex, with the help of good-bad guy Slim Zoni (Fuzzy Knight) prevails.To prove he is what he says he is, Evans directs Tex to kill a couple of miners, Norman Conklin (Bob Burns) and Bill Henderson (Tex Phelps), and Tex apparently does. Later, Don Valle is murdered and Tex is framed for it and jailed. Evans is directing Tex’s trial and rolling right along until Tex’s lawyer (Robert Fiske) calls two surprise witnesses…the two miners Tex was supposed to have killed. Tex discloses his real identity to the Sheriff and Evans sees his game is up. There is a shootout in the courtroom and good-guy comic relief Zoni dies (just as his character in the original film played by Al St. John did also) by a bullet from Evans’ gun before Tex shoots Evans. Ritter sings “My Sweet Chiquita”, which he wrote and also his own arrangements of “Rye Whiskey” and “Sam Hall” He also sung “Out on the Lone Prairie” which was written by and credited to Harry “Shorty” Miller but some sources incorrectly show Ritter as the composer. And leading lady Joan Woodbury sang her own composition called “You Are Reality.” Jose Pachea and His Continental Orchestra provided some fiesta dance music.