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Bells of Rosarita

Republic Pictures

Production Dates: began mid-January 1945

Release Date: 1945 06 19

Running time: 68 min. (6,113 ft.)

Key book (production) number: 1324

Location: Iverson's Ranch

Trio: Bob Nolan, Scotty Harrel and Ken Carson


Four video clips from this film seen on our Videos page:

Bob Gets the Works

Bob's Dance Routine

Trail Herdin' Cowboy

We are Actors


Quick Links to this page:




Plot Summary

Professional stills


Glass Slide




        Often referred to as "Bob Nolan's movie", The Bells of Rosarita does feature Bob and it has amusing scenes plus some delicious wordplay and double entendre. Bob has a major role but not as the stalwart, courageous  "Bob" we've come to expect from his previous movies. This time his character is humorless, a bit neurotic, and fussy.  His is a comic role and initially disconcerting to the Bob Nolan fan. He does have a very funny scene doing a jitterbug routine with Adele Mara. A little awkward in the actual dance steps, Bob does a back flip that shows he is still athletic at 37!

        Adele Mara is perfectly cast as the starry-eyed girl in love with the Hollywood cowboy image. Bob is never sure if she is as naive as she appears or if she is taking him for a ride - and neither are we.

        The Robert Mitchell Boychoir guest stars as the orphans or adopted children in the film. The Sons of the Pioneers (including Scotty Harrel in Tim Spencer's place) are usually visible in the background somewhere.

        Then, like icing on a cake, the popular B-Western stars of the day help Roy capture the villains and thereby delight every little Front Row Kid. Bob Livingston, Don "Red" Barry, Wild Bill Elliott, Allan "Rocky" Lane, Sunset Carson and their beautiful horses get right into the action at the end.

        The film also has some interesting insights into the making of B-Western movies. "Bells of Rosarita" is available on DVD.




Left: Gabby Hayes as Gabby Whittaker, Roy Rogers as himself and Dale Evans as Sue Farnum

Right: Adele Mara as Patty Phillips and Bob Nolan as Bob, an actor


Left: Roy Barcroft as Maxwell, Grant Withers as William Ripley

Centre: Addison Richards as Slim Phillips

Right: Janet Martin as Rosarita


The Robert Mitchell Boychoir as the orphans that belong to the Farnum show; and Trigger as himself.


Left: The Sons of the Pioneers, Right: Shug Fisher and Scotty Harrel


Left: Don "Red" Barry, Right: Sunset Carson


Left: Robert Livingston, Right: Allan "Rocky" Lane


Wild Bill Elliott and Thunder


Left: Tom London as a studio gate guard

Centre: Ed Cassidy as Tom the Sheriff

Right: Kenne Duncan as a kidnapper


Others in the Cast:

Rex Lease as a deputy

Robert J. Wilke as a deputy

Cactus Mack as a townsman

Kenne Duncan as one of the kidnappers

Dale Van Sickel as the heavy battling Sunset Carson

Hank Bell as a farmer




Aloha Oe – for Adele's hula performance in the beginning
Bugler’s Lullaby (Robert Mitchell / Betty Best / Burt-m)
The Bells of Rosarita (John M. "Jack" Elliott) – Roy, unknown girl and Boychoir
Under a Blanket of Blue (Marty Symes / Al Neiburg / Jerry Livinston (Levinson) – Dale Evans
Singin’ (Swingin’) Down the Road (Charles Tobias, Raymond Scott) - Roy
Gonna Build a Big Fence Around Texas (Cliff Friend / George Olsen-m / Kathleen Phillips-w)
Michael Finnegan (traditional) Robert Mitchell Boychoir
When the Circus Came to Town (Jimmy Eaton / Julian Kay / Terry Shand) – Pioneers
Trail Herdin’ Cowboy (Bob Nolan) Roy leads first then gives it to Bob.
Finale – When the Circus Came to Town – Bells of Rosarita – Roy, Dale and the Boys




        Sue Farnum has inherited a carnival and ranch from her father who had, unfortunately, borrowed money from a shyster before he died. Sue is certain her father had repaid the money but she never did find the receipt and now the money lender is trying to take the property.

        The film opens in a carnival owned by Slim Phillips where his niece, Patty, is a "Hawaiian" dancer. Sue and her old friend, Gabby Whittaker, talk to Phillips about their financial difficulties and he decides to go back to Cabrillo, California, with them. Perhaps they can combine their carnivals. Patty is ecstatic.



        On the train out to Cabrillo, Sue receives a wire informing her that she will be met at the station by Bill Ripley, the man who is determined to get her ranch and carnival by any means.




        Ripley tries to ingratiate himself with Phillips without success. On the way to the ranch, they are overtaken and forced off the road by a stagecoach, followed by Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers at full gallop.




        Sue is astonished and not really pleased to find that her ranch is being leased by a western movie outfit. Patty, on the other hand, is quite overcome with the thought of all the cowboys and meeting Roy Rogers in person.



        Arriving at the ranch, they head for the carnival tent when they hear singing. A dozen or more boys with Ken Carson accompanying them on the bugle are singing The Bugler's Lullaby. These children are orphans of show business people and have become part of the Farnum family over the years. After the song, Patty meets more cowboys - the Sons of the Pioneers.



        The next day, they visit the set in time to see Frank McDonald setting up a scene in a western musical called "The Bells of Rosarita". The boys have a part in the chorus. Roy is the hero who rescues Rosarita from a loveless marriage and carries her away on his horse. Between scenes Roy tries to talk with Sue but Bob drags him back to work.



        Ripley makes an opportunity to talk to Roy to see if he is interested in buying the ranch. The little boys, taking it all in, wonder if Sue will lose her ranch and what will happen to them if she does.



        The next chance he gets, Roy chats with Sue and Patty while Bob tries in vain to get him back to work. Roy is determined to see as much of Sue as he can so Patty sets out to distract Bob and she is successful. Pleased and flattered, Bob gets "the works".




        Meanwhile, Gabby and Phillips have been relaxing near the house until their conversation is interrupted by two very worried little boys. They tell Gabby that they overheard Ripley tell Roy that the ranch would be his to sell and, just as Gabby is calming their fears, Ripley himself drives up. Words are exchanged and Ripley threatens Gabby. 




        Later in the evening, a barbecue supper is in progress and Dale entertains them by singing "Under a Blanket of Blue".



        Roy, backed by the relaxed Sons of the Pioneers, sings "Singin' Down the Road". Trigger joins in the dance with a bit of hip swinging and Bob attempts a jitterbug with Patty. The choreography is a bit tricky but he manages to whirl Patti around his waist but trips and falls with her. He does a somersault to prevent falling on her, ending up flat on his back. He looks back at Patty who beckons to him so he does a quick back flip and lands on his feet again.




        The guard interrupts the festivities to tell them that he had seen Slim Phillips being kidnapped. Bob and Roy jump into their cars only to find that they've been tampered with and won't run, so they get on their horses and give chase. They lose the kidnappers who had picked up speed when they reached the paved highway. No one knows why Phillips has been kidnapped.

        While Sue talks to the sheriff, she worries that Gabby hasn't turned up, either. Right then, they are all aware of some thumping in a pantry closet and they find Gabby, tied and apparently bleeding. The blood turns out to be jam from the pantry and Gabby's bragging is cut short when he realizes that his audience has disappeared.



        When the filming is completed, the movie crew prepares to leave. Bob and Roy are packing their suitcases when three of the little boys knock at their door. Because they don't quite know how to phrase their request, the boys hedge for awhile and ask Roy to sing, "Gonna Build a Big Fence Around Texas" joined by the boy's chorus outside his window.        

        The boys in the room finally get to the point and ask if Roy could help save the ranch and carnival for Sue like he did in the movies. This is the first time Roy was aware that Sue was in financial trouble and he instantly offers to help, against all of Bob's objections. Bob tries to explain to the boys that he and Roy are only actors, that they only save the heroine in the movies because the script says so. Roy won't have any of it. He's going to save this heroine. Period.




        Now the boys outside start their chores and they sing a medley of old songs, beginning with Michael Finnegan, while they do them.



        The next step is to see what can be done about Sue's debt. Roy asks if it would help if he provided a show for her carnival and Sue grasps at that straw. Roy gets on the phone immediately and asks Don "Red" Barry, Allan "Rocky" Lane, Sunset Carson, Bob Livingston and Wild Bill Elliott if they are interested. They are. The plans for the carnival and show get underway although Shug is worried about his pet duck, Oscar, and is a bit distracted.



           When Ripley and Maxwell hear that the plans include a parade, they drag out an old city bylaw that prohibits parades and it is the sheriff's unhappy job to enforce it. When Shug's duck dies, Roy and Gabby decide to turn the parade into a funeral procession. The sheriff washes his hands of the whole thing and the crowd is delighted. The Sons of the Pioneers sing "When the Circus Came to Town" in the parade.



        Meanwhile, back at the ranch house, Ripley and Maxwell decide to break in and search for the missing receipt so they can destroy it. They are foiled by the appearance of Roy, Bob and Gabby. Roy assumes an interest in buying the ranch and the crooks take the bait. After a quick conference with Gabby and Bob, Roy goes back to Maxwell and Ripley who give him a guided tour around the carnival property. Gabby and Bob draw straws to see who will hide in the trunk of Ripley's car to see if it will take them to Phillips. To Bob's chagrin, Gabby cheats and wins.



        Roy returns from his property tour with Ripley and Maxwell, makes an appointment to see them again the next day and the crooks drive off with Gabby in the trunk. After a punishing ride over rough roads, they arrive at the hideout, talk with their henchmen and drive off again, this time to stop at a restaurant to eat. While they are inside, Gabby shoves the seat ahead to disengage the brake and the car rolls downhill to run through a barn and come to rest inside a haystack. Maxwell and Ripley come out after their lunch, find their car gone and, in one of the delightful ironies of the film, bewail the fact that there are crooks in the neighbourhood!




        Gabby makes his way back to the ranch and meets with Bob and Roy. He hadn't heard much in the trunk because of motor and road noise but he did remember the smell of a skunk and the water that wet him down when they crossed a wash. With these few clues, the three of them get on their horses and try to backtrack.

        They find the wash and tire tracks and, before too long, they smell skunk and find more tire tracks. Now they know where the crooks were heading and they ride to within hearing distance of the little cabin. They dive behind some rocks before they are discovered but it isn't long before the outlaws are shooting at them.

        Roy remembered a little trick from one of his movie roles and shoots the wire supports from the chimney pipe. Smoke fills the little cabin and the kidnappers send Phillips out to fill a bucket with water so they could douse the fire in the stove. Roy shoots holes through the bucket, Phillips salutes him in recognition of his plan, and takes the fast-emptying bucket into the cabin. The smoked-out outlaws give themselves up.





        The next scene finds Maxwell entering Ripley's office with the news that the receipt is in the bank and that Sue will find it there in the morning. As a last resort, they decide to break into the bank during the carnival show.



        Roy and the Sons of the Pioneers open the show with "Trail Herdin' Cowboy".



        While Sue is thanking the Republic stars for helping her out, there is an explosion and they all rush to their horses. The sheriff starts off in his car but a flat tire stops him while the horsemen rushed on. Each Republic star chooses a criminal to chase. Livingston remarks to Lane, as they were exchanging shots with the villains, "Much good we'll do with blanks in our guns!" Allan carefully takes aim once more and fires another blank. With no bullets, the Republic stars capture their men and Roy leaves on Trigger to follow Ripley who was making a getaway on Livingston's stallion. Roy bulldogs him from his horse, removes the receipt from his breast pocket and the carnival is saved.



        The final scene introduces all the stars with their horses and then Roy Rogers on Trigger. The film concludes with showgirls doing a high-stepping dance routine during the finale.







Roy Barcroft, Grant Withers, Bob Nolan, Roy Rogers and George "Gabby" Hayes


Gabby cheats and Bob loses.


Courtesy of Fred Sopher



Courtesy of Fred Sopher



Private Collection


Left to right: Wild Bill Elliott, Robert Livingston, Don "Red" Barry, Roy, Allan "Rocky" Lane and Sunset Carson



Robert Livingston, Don "Red" Barry, Roy, Sunset Carson and Allan "Rocky" Lane


Robert Livingston, Roy, Sunset Carson, Dale, Don "Red" Barry and Allan "Rocky" Lane

(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


Courtesy of Fred Sopher



(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


Sunset Carson, Robert Livingston, Allan "Rocky" Lane, Dale Evans, Roy Rogers, "Wild Bill" Elliott and Don "Red" Barry

(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


Courtesy of Earl Bryant


Don "Red" Barry, Roy Rogers, "Wild Bill" Elliott, Robert Livingston, Allan "Rocky" Lane and Sunset Carson

(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)



Courtesy of Fred Sopher




Under a Blanket of Blue


Singing "Under a Blanket of Blue"

No. 1324-60


Courtesy of Fred Sopher







Courtesy of Fred Sopher





Courtesy of Terry Sevigny Scott











Courtesy of Earl Bryant

Courtesy of Earl Bryant


Courtesy of Earl Bryant


Courtesy of Earl Bryant


Calin Coburn Collections © 2004


Courtesy of Earl Bryant



Courtesy of Earl Bryant


Courtesy of Earl Bryant


Courtesy of Earl Bryant














Glass Slide