The Old Homestead
Release Date: 1935 08 10
Running Time: 73 minutes
"The Old Homestead" is a musical comedy produced by Liberty Pictures Corporation at RKO-Pathι. Although only six songs are listed in the credits, this rare film contains all or part of 21 different songs, 3 of which are Bob Nolan's original compositions, "Way Out There", "Happy Cowboy" and "That Old White Mule of Mine". Most of the others are fiddle tunes featuring Hugh Farr. The Sons of the Pioneers have a fair amount of dialogue and Fuzzy Knight provides the comic relief. The plot is predictable but the film is fun to watch because of the enthusiasm of the young Sons of the Pioneers in their first feature-length movie. "The Old Homestead" is available online from Sinister Cinema.
Left: Mary Carlisle as Nancy Abbott and Lawrence Gray as Bob Shackleford.
Right: Willard Robertson as Uncle Jed and Lillian Miles as Peggy.
Farm Hands: Len Slye (Roy Rogers), Bob Nolan, Vern (Tim) Spencer and Hugh Farr.
Left: Eddie Kane as Mr. Wertheimer. Right: Fuzzy Knight as Lem.
Left: Eddie Nugent as Rudy Nash, popular crooner who falls in love with Nancy
Right: Dorothy Lee as the vamp, Elsie Wilson, who sets out to snare Bob.
George Lloyd as Elsie's husband and Harry Conley as J. Wilberforce Pratt, press agent
The full song list includes many uncredited numbers by the Sons of the Pioneers. (Thanks to Laurence Zwisohn and Larry Hopper for help identifying titles and composers.)
1. Plow Boy (J. Keirn Brennan / Ted Snyder) Lawrence Gray and the Sons of the Pioneers
2. Square Dance (Bird in a Cage and Three Rail Pen) featuring Len Slye and the Sons of the Pioneers
3. When Our Old Age Pension Check Comes to Our Door (Manny Stone) Fuzzy Knight and the Pioneers
4. Instrumental featuring Hugh with the Sons of the Pioneers
5. Instrumental schottische with the Sons of the Pioneers
6. Old Rover (Tim Spencer) with the Sons of the Pioneers
7. Deep River (spiritual) unidentified lady singer
8. Instrumental featuring Hugh with the Sons of the Pioneers
9. Way Out There (Bob Nolan) with the Sons of the Pioneers
10.Instrumental featuring Hugh with the Sons of the Pioneers
11. Instrumental featuring studio orchestra
12. Somehow I Knew (Harry Tobias / Neil Moret / Charles Rosoff) solo by Dorothy Lee's character
13. Harlem Nasty Man (George Waggner / Howard Jackson) Unidentified lady singer
14. Honey dat I Love So Well (Harry Freeman) with the Sons of the Pioneers a cappella.
15. Happy Cowboy (Bob Nolan) Lillian Miles' character with the Sons of the Pioneers
16. Tiger Rag (Hold that Tiger) with the Sons of the Pioneers
17. Moonlight in Heaven (John T. Scholl / Louis Alter) Lawrence Gray with the Sons of the Pioneers
18. Instrumental featuring Hugh with the Sons of the Pioneers
19. That Old White Mule of Mine (Bob Nolan) Fuzzy Knight with the Sons of the Pioneers
20. Happy Birthday (Mildred and Patty Hill) entire cast
21. Here Comes the Bride (Richard Wagner) entire cast
According to Laurence Zwisohn's cue sheet, there should be three more songs in the film. (Our film had been spliced many times which accounts for the gaps and jumps in the songs themselves.)
22. There's a Roundup in the Sky (Bob Nolan) with the Sons of the Pioneers
23. Tumbling Tumbleweeds (Bob Nolan) with the Sons of the Pioneers
24. Wagon Wheels (Billy Hill / Peter DeRose) with the Sons of the Pioneers
The film opens with the farm hands sitting around taking a coffee break and joining Bob Shackleford singing "Plow Boy", the film's theme song. Bob [Gray] sits on the plow behind a white horse. Bob Nolan peeks out from behind a blossoming tree.
Fuzzy Knight, Len Slye, Tim Spencer & Hugh Farr on the left with Bob Nolan behind them.
Lawrence Gray on right, sitting on the plowshare.
The hands return to their plowing while Bob's adopted cousin, Nancy Abbott, tries to persuade him to go to New York City to pursue a career in singing. He laughs it off so she decides to take things into her own hands and she writes a New York radio talent scout, Wertheimer, praising Bob's singing. A few days later, Wertheimer shows up at a barn dance at Uncle Jed's, where we hear Len calling a square dance.
Left: Bob Nolan at left with the standing bass. Hugh and his fiddle can be seen on the buggy.
Right: Eddie Kane as Mr. Wertheimer
Mr. Wertheimer searches the crowd for the singers and introduces himself to Nancy. After the Pioneers and Lem sing, "When Our Old Age Pension Check Comes to Our Door" the talent scout listens while they accompany Bob Shackleford singing "Plow Boy".
Hugh, Len, Tim, Fuzzy and Bob Nolan singing "When Our Old Age Pension Check Comes to Our Door".
Hugh, Len, Tim, Lawrence Gray and Bob Nolan singing "Plow Boy".
Wertheimer hires them all for his radio program dubbed "The Old Homestead", which is to be broadcast from New York. (While he, Uncle Jed, Nancy and Bob are discussing the business end of it, we can hear Hugh Farr's fiddle playing one of his breakdowns.) Uncle Jed and Nancy discuss her fears while in the background we hear the Sons of the Pioneers singing, "Old Rover".
Willard Robertson and Mary Carlisle
A New York radio show involves moving everyone, including Nancy and Uncle Jed, from the old homestead to New York and Wertheimer makes a point of asking them to wear their farm clothes at all times. Waiting their turn at their NY radio debut, chewing gum and wearing their loud, ill-fitting country go-to-meeting clothes, they listen to an unidentified artist singing "Deep River".
After a nervous start on the part of Wertheimer and Uncle Jed, the boys swing into a fiddle breakdown followed by Way Out There. Vern (Tim) nervously tugs at his suit jacket. Bob Nolan's suit is a couple of sizes too small, Len sports stripes galore and Hugh wears a wild plaid.
Just as we expect, the show is an immediate hit, naturally. While she is watching the boys perform, and while we listen to an instrumental and then Bob singing "Plow Boy", Nancy meets famous crooner Rudy Nash and his jealous partner, Elsie Wilson. Bob takes an immediate irrational dislike to Rudy.
Singing "Plow Boy" at their radio debut
Eddie Nugent conducts the band playing an unidentified melody.
Nugent introduces Dorothy Lee's song, "Somehow I Knew".
Instead of going to bed as directed by Uncle Jed, the boys goes to a nightclub owned by Peggy. Sitting at the bar, they watch an unidentified performer sing "Harlem Nasty Man".
The boys drink a little too much "hard cider", sing a little too loud, and the hired entertainers quit in disgust.
Len, Hugh, Fuzzy, Tim and Bob Nolan singing, "Honey dat I Love So Well".
Lem lifts Peggy onto the piano and the Pioneers accompany her while she sings Happy Cowboy.
Clockwise from Fuzzy Knight at piano: Hugh Farr, Bob Nolan, Len Slye, Lillian Miles and Tim Spencer
Nancy and Rudy arrive shortly. The proprietor, recognizing Rudy, thinks he puts two and two together and offers Nancy $1,250 a week for the boys to perform at the club.
Mary Carlisle, unidentified proprietor and Eddie Nugent
Elsie decides to stir things up by making a play for Bob, inviting him to her room and making a big fuss over him. Bob returns to the hotel suite before Rudy brings Nancy home and unjustly accuses Nancy of playing fast and loose. She points out the lipstick on Bob's chin. The quarrel continues but so does Bob's infatuation with Elsie.
Left: Lawrence Gray, Eddie Nugent and Mary Carlisle Right: Carlisle and Gray
The next morning, at breakfast, the Pioneers and Lem arrive at the table completely without appetite. So do Nancy and Bob but for a different reason. While they are all pushing their food around on their plates, the new press agent, J. Wilberforce Pratt, and Mr. Wertheimer show up with two suitcases of fan mail for Bob, newly named The Golden Voice of the Air.
Left: The Pioneers, a little under the weather because of too much "hard cider".
Harry Conley and Mary Carlisle.
Willard Robertson, Harry Conley, Eddie Kane, Bell Boy, Mary Carlisle watch Lawrence Gray read his first fan mail.
Bob perks up and begins to believe that he really is "the golden voice of the air" when he is offered a show of his own. Uncle Jed meets Peggy and is immediately attracted to her.
The next Pioneer piece is a fiddle breakdown, "Tiger Rag (Hold That Tiger)" and then Bob sings "Moonlight in Heaven". The Pioneers sync an accompaniment that is in reality provided by the studio orchestra.
Mary Carlisle and Eddie Nugent
Nancy and Rudy make another date to the accompaniment of an instrumental in the background. Three weeks later, Nancy and Bob are no longer speaking, Uncle Jed is spending money on Peggy, and Rudy is overwhelming Nancy with his attentions. Twice Bob has been late for his own broadcast and Wertheimer warns him if he is late again, the sponsors will cancel him. Rudy proposes to Nancy and is rejected. Uncle Jed, with no intention of proposing marriage, buys a ring for Peggy, innocently slips it onto her finger and finds himself engaged.
Finally, Bob misses too many broadcasts and is fired. Elsie's husband (George Lloyd) locks him in his room, disengages his telephone, produces a note Bob has written to his wife and threatens to sue him. Nancy assures him that she and Bob are engaged, that Elise is her best friend and that she and Bob wrote the note as a joke.
George Lloyd, Dorothy Lee and Lawrence Gray
When Elsie and her husband depart, and Nancy tells Bob that Rudy proposed to her. Instead of asking her if she'd accepted, he wishes her good luck and leaves without telling anyone. Meanwhile, at the club, the Pioneers continue their own engagement and back Lem who sings That Old White Mule of Mine.
Len Sly, Fuzzy Night, Bob Nolan, Hugh Farr
The disheartened crew decides to return to the farm and Wertheimer, unwilling to lose his radio show, suggests they broadcast from there. They open the program in the old homestead barn. The boys start off their program with the theme song, "Plow Boy" and Bob returns in time to finish the song. He concludes the movie with "Moonlight in Heaven" with the studio orchestra.
Left: Willard Robertson, Lawrence Gray, Eddie Kane, Hugh Farr and Fuzzy Knight. Right: Lawrence Gray and Mary Carlisle.
And everybody lives happily ever after...
Courtesy of Bruce Hickey
Willard Robertson and Mary Carlisle