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Sons of the Pioneers


Republic Pictures Corporation

Release Date: 1942 07 02

Running time: 61 minutes

Key book (production) number: 1127

Location: Iverson's Ranch





Plot Summary

Publicity and Production Stills


This movie is available on DVD.


        This is a good, action-packed Roy Rogers vehicle but Bob Nolan has very little dialogue although he is present as a nearly-silent foreman of a pretty ranch owner. Gabby Hayes and Pat Brady provide the comedy and have a large part in the story.

        With a title obviously intended to honor the Sons of the Pioneers, the cut film contains remarkably little of the group which had been making movies with Roy Rogers for over a year at this time. We have been unable to find the uncut film. There is a good deal of curiosity about it because one of Bob Nolan's songs, "Things are Never What They Seem" ended up on the cutting room floor when the movie was cut down to TV size.

        "According to Packy Smith, an uncut version probably does not exist. Republic edited the original negative for MCA some years back, then destroyed the removed portions. Packy believes that if an uncut version exists it would be in the hands of an overseas collector or someone that may have an Armed Forces print. He also believes that if some collector had a copy in the United States we would know who may have it. He doesn't. He then told me that the fellow who put together the Rogers song book couldn't find the music either." (Ed Phillips to EM)


        The following introduction is from the press kit:


        "To all outward appearances, Frank Bennet, president of the Bennett Chemicals Company, is one of the most law-abiding and respectable citizens of Rogers City. Actually, however, he is the secret leader of a gang of desperadoes who have instituted a reign of terror in the area, destroying the property of the ranchers and killing their cattle. The region is rich in deposits of chromite and it is Bennett's plan to bankrupts the ranchers and force them to sell out to him before they can learn of the presence of the valuable ore on their land.

        "The efforts of Gabby Whittaker, sheriff of Rogers City, and a deputy, Pat Brady, to stop the gang are unavailing and the ranchers determine to replace Gabby with someone more efficient. At the suggestion of Louise Harper, an eastern girl who owns one of the larger ranches in the district, a group of citizens decides to support Bennett for the office. Gabby, however, is equally determined that if he must "abdicate", his successor should be none other than Roy Rogers, grandson of the Seth Rogers who founded the town. Roy has lived most of his life in New York where he is employed as an entomologist but, because his ranch has also been looted by the desperadoes, he agrees to come to Rogers City.

        "Much to the disgust of the townspeople in general and of Gabby in particular, Roy seems to be a docile, timid fellow, too easy-going to be willing to fight. Worse still, he announces that he intends to rid Rogers City of its criminals by "talking them out of their evil ways." Bennett, believing Roy the weakling he appears to be, sees to it that he is elected sheriff.

        "Roy later confides in Gabby that his "timidity" is a pretense he is carrying on to avert suspicion while he is investigating. Gabby promises to keep Roy's secret but unconsciously lets it slip to Frank Bennett. That night Bennett's men burn down the Rogers ranch; Roy escapes unharmed but allows the news to spread that he has been killed.

        "Roy has previously discovered that hundreds of the cattle which have supposedly died of hoof and mouth disease have, in reality, been poisoned. Then, when Gabby confesses that he has told the secret to Bennett, Roy realizes for the first time that Bennett is the leader of the gang. Roy, Gabby and Pat break into Bennett's factory and find a supply of the poison which has been used to kill the cattle but before they can safely leave, they are attacked and taken prisoner by Bennett and his men.

        "Shortly afterwards, their captors ride out to help other members of the gang who are waging a gun battle with Louise and her cowboys. Roy, Gabby and Pat manage to escape from the factory and go to Louise's assistance. The desperadoes are rounded up and Bennett is made to confess that he is the leader of the gang." (Courtesy of Les Adams)






Left: Roy Rogers as himself

Right: Pat Brady as the Deputy Sheriff, Roy and George Hayes as the Sheriff Gabby Whittaker


Left: Maris Wrixon as Louise Harper (ranch owner) and Bob Nolan as her foreman

Right: Roy Rogers with the Sons of the Pioneers (ranch hands)


Forrest Taylor (Jim Bixby), Minerva Urecal (Ellie Bixby), Bradley Page (Frank Bennett), Chester Conklin (old-timer)


Sarah Edwards as Roy's housekeeper

Hal Taliaferro as Matt, a henchman

Jack O'Shea as Zeke, a henchman

Fred Burns as a rancher

Karl Hackett as Dr. Thompson

Art Mix as the clumsy dancer

Others in the cast: Tom London, Pascale Perry, Frank Brownlee, Neal Hart, Frank Ellis, Bob Woodward, Bud Osborne, Herbert Rawlinson, Horace B. Carpenter and Nellie Walker.



01. Intro

02. Dance medley
03. The West is in My Soul (Bob Nolan) Roy and Pioneers on election day.
04. He’s Gone, He’s Gone Up the Trail (Tim Spencer) Pat and Gabby

05. Trail Herdin’ Cowboy (Bob Nolan) Roy and the Pioneers at the end of the film.

Missing songs, according to the press kit:
1. Come and Get It (Glenn/Tim Spencer)
2. Things are Never What They Seem (Bob Nolan)


Plot Summary:

        The story opens at a party in the Bixby home for Louise Harper who is celebrating the first anniversary of her arrival on her inherited ranch. Sheriff Whittaker juggles with Mrs. Bixby's cups while Pat sneaks a slice from the cake and the guests dance. Louise dancing, with Frank Bennett, tries to persuade him to be more like the westerners. Unfortunately, just at this time, Gabby drops one of Mrs. Bixby's cups, trips over Pat and breaks another before he hands her the third. An irate Mrs. Bixby smashes the third on Gabby's head.



        There appears to be a large cut in the film right here because there is a close-up of Bob's head that has nothing to do with the cake cutting that follows.



        Before she blows out the candle, Louise wishes for a solution to all the damage to ranches and stock that has been happening. Mrs. Bixby screams and everyone rushes to the door in time to see the barn engulfed in flames and a group of gunmen running off the horses.



        In the light of the burning barn, the folks gathered there decide they need a new sheriff. Gabby is stunned. The guests all move back into the house and persuade Frank Bennett to run against Gabby for the sheriff's office. A dejected Gabby suddenly becomes animated and suggests they invite Roy Rogers back to run for sheriff. Roy's grandfather was a local pioneer and his father was an excellent sheriff but Roy has lived in New York City for ten years or so. Gabby and Pat decide they will go to New York in person to persuade Roy to come home.



        Gabby and Pat arrive in New York just as Roy's housekeeper is trying to bully him into eating the meal she has prepared. He seems to be more interested in whatever he sees in his microscopes. The livingroom appears more like a laboratory than a place to relax.



        Roy's housekeeper is annoyed to hear the doorbell ring and she attempts to persuade Pat and Gabby to come back tomorrow. Since they have no place to go to tonight, she grudgingly asks them to wait while she talks to Roy. While they await her return, they notice a sign on the wall which Gabby mistakenly interprets as a G-Man certificate. FGI, Gabby decides, is a Super FBI or a Super G-Man. Pat is doubtful.



        When Roy hears who has come to see him, he straightens up in friendly greeting. Pat is unable to keep his eyes off Roy's dinner and helps himself.



        Roy has already heard from Mr. Bixby so, when Gabby and Pat explain their presence, he understands what they are here for. To their dismay, Pat and Gabby learn that FGI simply means a Fellow of the Geographical Institute, not what they hoped it was - experienced FBI training. When they learn that Roy has been studying not fingerprints but a bug under the microscope, they are stunned. Roy is definitely not the man for the job. Not realizing that Roy has heard their frantically whispered conversation behind his back, they try to back out gracefully. But Roy, with a twinkle in his eye, is definitely coming out west to take the job.



        Back in Rogers City the towns people await their hero. But Roy is having a bit of trouble with rough cowboys who take his car and leave him afoot. They ambush him, knock him down and when he apologizes abjectly for causing trouble, they drive off laughing.



        But Roy roamed these hills as a boy and he remembers the shortcuts. He waylays the man relegated with looking after the horses and knocks him down. The man never knew what hit him.



        Roy mounts one of the horses and cut across country to intercept his own car.



        Roy jumps onto the trunk as the car slows for a curve. He removes a bit of hose from his gear and starts siphoning the gas. As the car slows again, he jumps off and hides. The toughs decide they'd better walk home.



        Roy refills the tank with a small container of gas from the trunk of his car and drives to an old familiar hiding place. His name is still on the trunk of a tree where he carved it as a boy.



        Meanwhile, in Rogers City, folks are astonished to see the son of the great Caleb Rogers walking into town with his suitcases.


        Gabby and Pat are embarrassed but not surprised when Roy confesses some cowboys stole his car and it wasn't very nice of them to do that on such a hot day for walking. Louise is horrified to find the town hero is a timid fellow. Frank is delighted.



        At an isolated cabin, we discover that Frank is the leader of these bandits and he is pleased that Roy is such a "weeping willow". This will fit right into his plans. If Roy is ineffectual, the robbery will go on unabated.



        Election Day arrives and the voting starts. There is a good turnout and Roy is a popular fellow who sings "The West is in My Soul" while he awaits results. He wins, of course. Frank has made sure of that.



        Just after the results are announced, Bob gallops up with the bad news that fifty of Louise's cattle have died. She mounts and rides with her crew, the Sons of the Pioneers and they all meet at her corral where the vet has just examined her cattle.



        The vet has diagnoses the disease as hoof-and-mouth disease and directs them to bury the cattle. Roy wonders aloud if the cattle should be tested first to see if it is, indeed, hoof-and-mouth disease and he is jeered down. Lloyd gallops in with the news that he has found tracks. Louise and her men are ready to go after the raiders when Roy informs her that the tracks will peter out if she follows them in that direction. She takes this to mean that he is avoiding trouble again and leaves with her men



        Roy comes back after dark to where they buried the cattle and digs up a sample, takes it back to his car and, before he can get his microscope out, Louise and her men rush him. He remounts and leaves at a run with the Pioneers chasing him so Louise does not get a chance to recognize him. He loses them in the dark. Louise apologizes to her men for so much night work and they head for home again.



        Roy goes back to his car and gets the microscope out of the trunk and sets it up. This time Gabby and Pat find him and he explains what he is doing. They are surprised and happy to learn that he is not the coward they had thought him to be. Roy cautions them to tell no one. Gabby repeats it to Pat. But the first man they meet when they get back to town is Frank and Gabby, swelled up with his new found confidence in Roy tells Frank everything he has found out, including where Roy is right now. Pat is unable to stop him.



        Frank meets with his henchmen again and they take off to Valdez Cave. Roy hears them coming and leaves. Losing them temporarily, he trades places with a scarecrow. One of the crooks takes a pot shot at what he thinks is the scarecrow and shoots Roy's hat off his head. By this time, Roy is near the Harper Ranch and Louise catches him straddling her corral fence. Ingenuously, he asks for something to eat because he's hungry. Louise is not impressed when she hears he's lost his horse this time but she asks him in for a bite to eat.

        This is where Bob Nolan's song was cut from the original film. (Roy has just sung "Things are Never What They Seem" to her.) He thanks her for the food and then ostensibly goes home and to bed.




        Meanwhile, Frank's henchmen give up the chase and meet with Frank again. He calls them down and Matt suggests putting an end to Roy in his little bunkhouse. Frank agrees. Matt and another henchman tiptoe to the window and see what appears to be Roy sleeping in his bunk. Matt shoots him then splashes gasoline inside and lights a match to it.



        Next day, Gabby and Pat hold Roy's badge and belt buckle and realize Roy died in the fire. The neighboring ranchers are all there and Louise rallies them to fight again this time with night riders of their own. Everyone leaves ready to dig in, protect their ranches and get revenge for Roy's death.



        Gabby and Pat ride off sadly together. Gabby is convinced that he is responsible for Roy's death and begins to sing "He's Gone, He's Gone Up the Trail". Pat joins in and when Roy joins them with a yodeled chorus from the side of the dark road, they each think the other is yodeling and it suits their mood. When they discover that neither of them had been doing it, they were spooked. Roy didn't make it any better by singing another verse and coming into sight on Trigger like a white ghost. Pat and Gabby are convinced they are seeing ghosts and turn tail and run.



        Roy has to rope them from their horses before he can talk to them. At the same time, Louise and Bob have been riding quietly around and arrive in time to hear Roy's explanation to Pat and Gabby. They learn that Gabby had told Frank and then everyone realizes Frank is behind all this terror but they don't know why. Roy explains that there is chromite ore under the ranches, enough to make them all millionaires. Frank is spreading terror so the ranchers will sell to him.



        Bob and Louise return to their horses but they are discovered by the raiders. They make a run for it but are trapped at Eagle Rocks where they make a stand.



        Meanwhile, Roy, Gabby and Pat decide to explore the Frank's lab. They tie their horses under a tree and Roy shoots the lock off the door. He sets Pat outside to guard them, not knowing that Frank had been driving up and heard the report of Roy's gun. One of his henchmen joins him and they knock Pat out and carry him into the room Gabby has been exploring. As Pat regains consciousness, he finds Gabby juggling some cute little bottles but he does a double take when he sees "Nitroglycerine" on the box.



        Upstairs, Roy has made a good fight when the two villains enter the room but he is overcome and knocked out, too. As he regains consciousness, he hears them discuss Bob and Louise at Eagle Rock. They leave him and lock the door behind them but Roy breaks a bottle of acid which eats away his bonds.



        Downstairs, Frank finds Gabby juggling the bottles and Pat a quivering mass of anxiety. When they see what is in the bottles, they leave and lock the door behind them. Pat tries unsuccessfully to follow them out. They leave on horseback, Frank on Trigger.


        When Roy releases himself, he opens the door for Gabby and Pat, catches one of the bottles and they leave. Gabby nearly throws the bottles onto the floor in anger, catches himself, sets them down ever so gently and follows Roy. They mount the horses they find there (somehow there are three horses available) and Roy throws his bottle of nitroglycerine into the field causing an explosion of dirt. They head out to help Bob and Louise.



        Bob and Louise are trapped and running out of ammunition. Frank calls up one of his men with a magnesium gun and they set fire to the area where they are hiding. Just when all seems lost, Roy, Gabby and Pat arrive and start taking out men in the dark. Roy arrests Frank and the Pioneers capture the rest of the gang.


        The final scene opens at the Harper Ranch with the Sons of the Pioneers singing, "Trail Herdin' Cowboy". Louise gives Gabby three cups to replace the ones he'd destroyed at the party at the beginning of the film but he dashes them to the ground. Pat says "Well, this is where we came in" and the movie ends.




Publicity Stills




Courtesy of Fred Sopher





Courtesy of Fred Sopher




Courtesy of Terry Sevigny Scott



John Fullerton Collection








Jack O'Shea and Bradley Page with a bound Roy Rogers






Courtesy of Fred Sopher



Calin Coburn Collection © 2004 originally from Tom Popelka


Courtesy of Earl Bryant


Bruce Hickey poster


Bruce Hickey poster


Bruce Hickey poster












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