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Lights of Old Santa Fe


Republic Pictures Corporation

Production Dates:

Release Date:1944 11 06

Running time: 77 or 78 minutes (8 reels or 6,985 ft.)

Key book (production) number: 1326

Location: Kernville


Plot Summary
Production and Publicity Stills

Press Kit

Lantern Slide

This movie is available on DVD.


            The Lights of Old Santa Fe is a warm and funny western drama starring Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Although Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers are integral to the plot, they have very little dialogue. They do back Roy on many good songs. Gabby Hayes co-stars, Richard Powers (George Duryea aka Tom Keene) takes the part of the villain. Tim Spencer and Jack Elliott were responsible for writing most of the songs. By this time, fewer and fewer of Bob Nolan's songs were being used by Republic.

            There is some excellent stunt riding in the film.




Roy Rogers as himself, George "Gabby" Hayes as Gabby Whittaker, and Claire du Brey as Rosie McGurk


Arthur Loft as Bill Wetherbee, Richard Powers as Frank Madden and Dale Evans as Marjorie Brooks


Sam Flint as the Sheriff, Roy Barcroft as Ken Ferguson.


Left: Lloyd Corrigan as the Marty Maizely. Right: Lucien Littlefield as the Judge





Amor (Sunny Skylar / Gabriel Ruiz /Ricardo Lopez Mendez)

Cowpoke Polka (Tim Spencer)

I'm a Happy Guy in My Levi Britches (Tim Spencer)

Cowboy Jubilee (Ken Carson)

The Nerve of Some People (Jack Elliott)

Trigger Hasn't Got a Purty Figure (Tim Spencer)

Lights of Old Santa Fe (Jack Elliott) around the campfire

Ride 'em, Cowboy (Tim Spencer / Roy Rogers)

Lights of Old Santa Fe (Jack Elliott) at barbecue

Lights of Old Santa Fe (Jack Elliott) finale



Plot Summary:

            Lights of Old Santa Fe is based on a rivalry between two rodeos. Marjorie Brooks, who has just graduated from university, owns the Brooks International Rodeo which is managed by Gabby Whittaker. Marjorie, ignorant of the fact that her business is on the brink of financial ruin, has organized a charity affair to bring a little culture to her home community. After being introduced to Gabby's friends (Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers), Marjorie sings Amor to a responsive audience.



            Frank Madden, who has designs on Marjorie as well as her rodeo, watches the show with her booking agent, Bill Wetherbee. The act following Marjorie's is a ballet set to Chopin's "Fantasie Impromptu in B minor". Gabby declaring that he'd rather slide down a razor blade than watch ballet, herded Roy and the Pioneers into a corner where they provided their own variety of entertainment by singing The Cowpoke Polka.



            Finding the Pioneers' music more to their taste, the audience rose from their seats to get closer. Frank Madden hires the group immediately for his rodeo.

            The following scene finds Gabby at Wetherbee's office, hoping for more bookings for the rodeo. They aren't forthcoming because the public prefers Madden's rodeo. Gabby has let things slide for years and kept all the bad news from Marjorie.



            Gabby leaves the office, discouraged. Meanwhile, Roy and the boys drive out to Madden's and Shug, spying a Brahma bull, decides to hone his bull riding skills but he gets into trouble and Roy must rescue him on Trigger.


Roy, the Sons of the Pioneers and Trigger. (This may be the Pioneers' own touring vehicle.)



            Meanwhile, Madden and his foreman, Ken Ferguson, have been watching in growing anger. They confront the Pioneers and Madden reminds them that he hired them to sing, not ride in his rodeo. Hot words are exchanged and Roy and the Pioneers quit before they've even started. As they leave the ranch, they meet Marjorie who can tell Roy isn't impressed with the man she is considering marrying.


Left: Madden and Ferguson Right: Dale and Roy


            Undisturbed at losing a good job, the Pioneers and Roy drive away, extolling their carefree life in song as they sing I'm a Happy Guy in My Levi Britches.



            The boys pass a sign leading to The Brooks Rodeo ranch which reminds them of Gabby and another rodeo job opportunity. Gabby hires them on the spot when he sees Trigger and the crowd-pleasing possibilities in the horse.



           When Marjorie returns from the Madden ranch she confronts Gabby with the fact that she is now aware of their financial state of affairs. She is definitely not pleased to hear that he has hired Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers. Where, she asks, will the money come to pay them with but Gabby is already ahead of her with an idea.



            Gabby takes the boys into town to the local radio station where he "sells" them to the announcer, Marty Maisley. Marty is in the middle of a one man show, "Little Nugget, the Miner's Child." He tells Gabby he doesn't want cowboys. Gabby assures him that they just look like cowboys but they are really singers. In the excitement, Marty drops the recording he is to play so Roy and the boys come in quickly and sing Cowboy Jubilee which saves the program and impresses Marty who hires them. The scene segues into them singing the same song in an outdoor venue.




            Just as the song finishes, Marjorie drives up and Roy challenges her to sing The Nerve of Some People with him. The Pioneers sync an accompaniment.



            The next day, when the boys drive in, Gabby and Rosie meet them. To Roy's dismay, Dale has taken Trigger and gone boating with Frank Madden. Bob drives Roy down to retrieve his horse and, incidentally, Marjorie. Roy lassoes the prow of the boat, knocking Frank off his feet into the water and dragging the boat, Marjorie and all, well up onto the shore. She refuses to return home with Roy so he enlists Trigger's help while he sings Trigger hasn't got a Purty Figure until she gives in and rides in front of him on the saddle.



            Back at the ranch, Gabby meets them with a letter from Wetherbee telling them that he has found a booking for them at Albuquerque. If the show is a success, there'll be more bookings. Marjorie tells him that it's too late, that she' is selling her rodeo to Frank Madden. Gabby persuades her to let them do the one booking before she closes the deal and she reluctantly gives in. Gabby and the boys start practicing [and here is where we see some excellent stunt riding - Roman riding, pony express swapping sides, etc. Joe Yrigoyen was Roy's stunt double.]

            Frank Madden challenges Roy to a race in the chariots. Roy wins, naturally, but Madden takes it with a smile because he has something else in mind.


Left: Bob's double Roman riding. Right: Bob himself at left.



Left: Frank Madden racing Roy Rogers in chariots.


            The hands load the stock and the wagons and get on the road. They stop for a rest along the way and Roy and the Pioneers sing Lights of Old Sante Fe around a campfire.



            Ferguson, Madden's henchman, sneaks up in the dark, unties all the horses and ropes Trigger. Trigger objects vigorously, breaks the braided rawhide rope and alerts Roy.



            Madden's crew sets fire to the Brooks Rodeo wagons and scatters the stock. Gabby, impulsively jumps into one of the runaway wagons, hits his head and knocks himself out. The wagon overturns into the river and Roy is forced to jump in to save Gabby.



            All is lost and it seems there is no hope of appearing in Albuquerque until Roy hits on the idea of enlisting the aid of radio announcer, Marty Maizely. He persuades Marty to let them borrow his mobile equipment with the purpose of fooling Marjorie so she won't sell the rodeo until Roy has another chance to put it on its feet. They will "produce" a radio rodeo for her, complete with sound effects. Marty himself offers to stall the two women and keep them from getting to Albuquerque by driving in the opposite direction. Although they never reach Albuquerque, they "listen" to the rodeo on radio, including a performance by the Sons of the Pioneers of Ride 'em, Cowboy.




            Later, back at the Brooks Ranch, Roy, Dale, Gabby and Rosie prepare a celebration barbecue.  They sing  Lights of Old Santa Fe with the Sons of the Pioneers. Gabby joins in with a verse of his own.



            The beef is cooked and they are just ready to sit in to eat when Frank Madden and Bill Wetherbee appear at the door. Bill tells her he was at Albuquerque but her rodeo wasn't. Marjorie is faced with the truth and, desolate that her friends have all lied to her, agrees to combine Frank's rodeo with her own.



            As Roy and the boys prepare to leave town, they decide to drop in to the radio station to say goodbye to Marty. Trigger rears and snorts when he sees Ferguson's horse, drawing Roy's attention to the broken rawhide lariat.



            Quickly and without explanation, Roy punches Bob in the face and knocks him around in front of a surprised Ferguson and a stunned group of Pioneers. He unloads Trigger again and saddles him. Ferguson strolls over to find out what was going on and Roy said he was fed up with the Pioneers, that he was going to go it alone. The Pioneers gape at him, trying to figure out what is going on. Ferguson hires Roy and they ride out of town with Roy giving the boys the high sign behind his back. They race to saddle their horses, finally comprehending that he wants them to follow him.



            Ferguson and Roy chat along the trail until Bob and, two by two, the other Pioneers join them. Roy faces him with the broken lariat and Ferguson pulls a gun on him. Roy pulls him off his horse and they exchange a few punches but Ferguson is no fighter and it doesn't take long for him to call it quits.



            They ride back to town and break in on Marjorie and Frank's wedding ceremony where Ferguson starts to spill the beans. The sheriff arrests Frank and Marjorie disappears.



            In a few days, she is called to Wetherbee's office where he tells her that he has bought Madden's rodeo and suggests that she join him with hers. She accepts gladly, writes a letter to Gabby and disappears again.



            The men get the Brooks Rodeo together and head for the State Fair.




            Throughout the grand entrance, everyone watches for Marjorie but she doesn't appear until Roy and the Pioneers begin to sing Lights of Old Santa Fe. Roy and Trigger carry her over to her own mount, the rodeo begins and the film ends.











Professional stills:


Courtesy of Earl Bryant




Courtesy of Earl Bryant






Courtesy of Ed Phillips



Private Collection




Courtesy of Fred Sopher




Courtesy of Fred Sopher






Courtesy of Fred Sopher





Courtesy of Bruce Hickey







Courtesy of Earl Bryant


Courtesy of Earl Bryant


Courtesy of Earl Bryant



Courtesy of Earl Bryant








Courtesy of Fred Sopher



Courtesy of Fred Sopher










Courtesy of Les Adams








Lantern slide


Press Kit (courtesy of Les Adams)