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Sunset on the Desert

(aka as "Pal o' Mine" / "Sunset on the Trail")

 

Republic Pictures Corporation

Production Dates: February 11 - February 23, 1942

Release Date: 1942 04 01

Running time: 63 minutes

Key book (production) number: 1125

Location: Vasquez Rocks / Walker Ranch

 

• Credits

• Cast

• Songs

• Plot Summary

• Publicity & Production Stills

• Posters

• This movie is available on DVD.

 

        "Sunset on the Desert" is a story of mistaken identity and crooked lawmen. When Roy Rogers, returning to his hometown, finds he is taken for a vicious crook who looks just like him, he is intrigued by the mystery and plays along to find out what is going on. Roy gets a screen kiss in this one.

        The film also introduces "Remember Me", one of Bob Nolan's most important songs; a song that never caught on with the public but which Bob himself considered as good as "Tumbling Tumbleweeds". He had high hopes for it but the song was never recorded outside the film.

        After years of playing second lead to the star in the Columbia / Starrett pictures, Bob never again reaches that stature in the Republic / Rogers films.  Bob has a fairly good role in "Sunset on the Desert" and does it well but Gabby Hayes plays Roy's sidekick. Only once, in Bells of Rosarita, would Bob be cast as Roy's sidekick. Others - Gabby Hayes, Smiley Burnette and Pat Brady - usually had that role.

        Our source is a video cut to 53 minutes for television so at least one song is missing.

 

Credits

 

 

Cast:

 

Roy Rogers as both himself and Bill Sloane, Lynne Carver as Ann Kirby and Frank M. Thomas as Judge Kirby

 

George Hayes as Gabby Whittaker, Bob Nolan as himself and Douglas Fowley as Ramsay McCall

 

Beryl Wallace as Julie Craig, Glenn Strange as Louie, a deputy, and Roy Barcroft as Meade, another deputy

 

Fred Burns as Jim Prentiss, Forrest Taylor as George Belknap, Ed Cassidy as the Sheriff and Henry Wills as Deputy Ed.

 

Other in the cast:

Cactus Mack as a cowhand

Ted Mapes as a henchman deputy

Jack O'Shea as a townsman

Pascale Perry as a rancher

Bob Woodward as Phil, a deputy

 

Songs:

01 Introduction

02 It’s a Lie (Bob Nolan) Read the lyrics
03 Instrumental behind dialogue
04 Instrumental behind dialogue
05 Bob's speech (not a song)

06 Instrumental behind dialogue

07 Introduction to cut song behind dialogue
08 Remember Me (Bob Nolan) Read more about the song.
09 Faithful Pal o’ Mine (Roy Rogers/Tim Spencer)

10. End credits

 

Plot:

            The story begins on a ranch in South Creek with owner, Jim Prentiss, reading a letter. He discovers that his own ranch has been sold at an auction in a tax sale to Ramsay McCall. Jim's son, Tom, grabs the letter and gallops off to town to confront the sheriff and ask what it is all about. Three men, including Ramsay McCall, watch from a hill as he leaves. McCall assures the other two men that Sheriff's deputy Sloane is well able to take care of Tom Prentiss.           

           

 

            (There is a piece cut from the film here.) The next scene displays a newspaper article stating that Tommy Prentiss has been shot by the sheriff. Then the film cuts to Gabby Whittaker, sitting on a fence watching Roy Rogers top a mean one.

 

 

            Gabby is also trying to read the paper but finds it impossible without his glasses. Between bucks, Roy tries to explain the background of the article to him.

           

 

            The KR Ranch was named for Kirby and Rogers, Roy's father and Judge Kirby's brother. The judge is in trouble and Roy feels he must do what he can to help. Gabby tries to talk him into staying with the rodeo but Roy is adamant and they both leave for South Creek. Gabby derides him for being a Robin Hood or a "Don Coyote or somebody that's always messin' in somebody's business" and then decides there must be a woman in it somewhere! Roy admits he would like to see how the homely little Kirby girl has turned out during the past ten years.

            Gabby demands to know what is going on in South Creek and Roy tells him how Tom Prentiss was shot by the deputy and Judge Kirby actually let him off. The country is in an uproar over this injustice because until now Kirby has been straight. Roy cannot imagine what has happened to make him change.

            The next scene finds Roy and Gabby on horseback on the road somewhere. They watch a group of four horsemen gallop off and Gabby observes, "It looks like someone is going somewhere to make something happen."

 

 

            The camera follows the men (a sheriff's posse) to the Prentiss Ranch where they attempt to serve an eviction notice to Jim Prentiss. Jim scares them to cover with his shotgun and then runs into the house.

 

 

        Shots are exchanged until Jim is hit in the arm.  Seeing he has no hope against so many men, Jim runs out to grab his horse and head for the hills.

 

 

            The so-called posse follows him and back into Roy and Gabby's range of vision. Roy sees four against one and pulls out his rifle, ignoring Gabby's remonstrance.

 

 

            The sheriff decides to leave one man at the ranch and kill Prentiss on the pretext that he was resisting eviction. So begins a long chase with Prentiss followed by the three lawless deputies plus Roy and Gabby who come in from a different direction.

 

 

            Roy chases the three deputies off and Gabby runs up to help Prentiss who is friendly enough until Roy joins them. Thinking he recognizes an old enemy, Prentiss stiffens with anger and refuses help. Roy knows who he is but is puzzled about the mistaken identity.

 

 

            Louis gallops into town and runs up to Ramsay McCall's office where the lawyer is trying to deal with Julie Craig.

 

 

            Because he has sent her boyfriend out of town, Julie wants McCall to take her to the dance himself. Louis joins them and tells them that two of the deputies have been injured. McCall fills out a warrant for Prentiss's arrest.  Julie wonders why McCall wants the ranch at all and asks if there's gold there. "Something like that," he replies.

 

 

            Julie wanders to the window to wait until McCall finishes what he's doing and looks down on Roy and Gabby entering town. She is overjoyed to see who she thinks is her outlaw boyfriend, Bill Sloane. An angry McCall orders Louis to bring Sloane up to him so he can talk to him.

 

 

            Julie follows Louis out and tells him she will get Sloane herself. Meanwhile, a float advertising a Red Cross Dance parks across the street and Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers sing "It's a Lie!"

 

 

            Roy and Gabby drift over to listen and Roy spots Anne Kirby. Anne's face changes expression as she meets Roy's eyes and it is evident she despises him.

 

 

            Roy makes an excuse to talk to Anne but she cold shoulders him, obviously mistaking him for someone else. He does not correct her mistake. Just about that time, Julie appears, kisses Roy and orders him to get tickets for the dance. Roy does not correct her mistake, either, although Gabby is getting extremely nervous.

   

 

        Roy tries to buy two tickets from Anne but she turns on him, demanding to know why he had come back. "You've caused my uncle enough trouble!" She refuses to sell him tickets and leaves with Roy right behind her.

 

 

            Other eyes have been watching Roy. Julie does not like him paying attention to Anne - and neither does Bob Nolan, who considers Anne his girl.

 

 

            Roy follows Anne to the court house where Prentiss is complaining to her uncle, Judge Kirby, that Sloane is back.

 

 

            Kirby refuses to believe this until Anne enters the room followed by someone who appears to be Sloane. Prentiss advises Kirby to give up the office of Judge and informs him that he is going to see the Governor.

 

 

            The Judge turns to Roy and demands he stay out of town. Bob, walking in with Gabby, reinforces that order and, at a nod from Gabby, Roy turns to leave.

 

 

            Out in the corridor, Gabby tries to get him to return to the rodeo but Roy is stubborn. He plans to "be" Sloane until he solves the mystery. Back in the office, Judge Kirby reassures Anne and then she leaves with Bob.

 

 

            McCall enters from another door with the warrant he wants signed. He orders Kirby to sign and he promises to get rid of Sloane. The judge signs under protest. "Someday you're going up for blackmail, McCall!"

 

 

 

            Out on the street, Julie catches up with Roy who is now acting as Sloane. She is definitely not happy with his behaviour toward her. She hands Roy the tickets for the 8:00 dance and orders him to be there on time. Gabby tries to warn Roy that she is dynamite but Roy intends to show up at the dance to see if he can find out anything.

 

 

            Gabby decides to go to the dance to keep an eye on Roy to protect him from Julie. He buys a ticket and ends up paying double for it.

 

 

That evening, Roy and Julie enter the crowded dance floor and Roy notices Anne who is running a Kisses for Sale booth.

 

 

                       Roy signals Gabby to dance with Julie while he talks to Anne  Julie is not fooled but Anne continues to give Roy the cold shoulder.

 

 

                        After he puts in his order, Anne takes Roy's money and turns him over to Madge for the kisses.

 

 

            As he turns away from the booth, an angry Julie corners Roy and demands an explanation but just then, Bob Nolan goes into his pie auction action.

 

 

            The men bid on pies that are identified only by numbers so Roy pays attention and watches Anne show Bob which pie is hers.

 

 

            Julie watches, too, and waits her chance to switch the tickets. Roy notices the switch and also sees the committee lady switching the tickets back.

 

 

                        Roy wins Anne's pie to her chagrin, Julie's anger and Bob's disgust.

 

 

            The music moves into the introduction to another song while Roy escorts Anne out to a buggy where he must sing to her but, alas, the rest of this scene has been cut. [Perhaps one of our readers will recognize the lead-in and tell us which song was cut.]

 

 

            On the way back to the hotel, Julie accuses Roy of having changed since she last saw him. One of the deputies, Meade, watches from the shadows. He intercepts Gabby who is attempting to follow Roy and Julie and scares him off.

 

 

            Julie continues her tirade right into the hotel and up to her room. She lets him know that if he doesn't leave Anne alone, she will expose Kirby and thereby shame Anne.

 

 

            Roy eggs her on and finally discovers the secret - the Judge is being blackmailed for something his brother (Anne's father) is supposed to have done. Julie shows Roy the door. He leaves, she relents and opens the door again to see him heading in the wrong direction to his room.

 

 

            Roy enters his own room carefully, locks the door, opens the window and then douses the light again while someone enters through the window.

 

 

            Gabby! Gabby checks all the door and under the bed before Roy realizes he is looking for Julie.

 

 

            Roy explains that McCall is blackmailing the judge who is protecting his brother's memory. Roy doesn't believe Anne's father appropriated the county's funds and he plans to ride out to the old Kirby homestead in the morning. Gabby distrusting Julie, places a chair under the doorknob and prepares, to Roy's vast amusement, to sleep in it for the night.

 

 

            As Roy is saddling Trigger next morning, Louis meets and accompanies him to McCall's office where the lawyer demands an explanation for him being back in town.

 

 

            While he's there, Roy listens to a telephone conversation and realizes that Prentiss has been found. He hears the plans to kill him for "resisting arrest". McCall pays Roy and orders Roy/Sloane to leave town.

 

 

            Meade tells McCall about Julie's remarks over Sloane's puzzling behaviour. McCall shrugs it off.

 

 

            The two deputies leave to find Prentiss and Roy follows them.

 

 

            Belknap and Prentiss, on their way to see the Governor, try to outrun the deputies who drive them off the road.

 

 

            Roy and Gabby are at their wit's end on how to rescue them and then Roy comes up with a plan. He holds Gabby up, takes his gun and joins Ed and Louis, the two deputies, with his "prisoner".

 

 

           The deputies are a little confused at this apparent change of plan and Roy takes advantage of their hesitation to walk in front of Gabby who grabs his gun and holds the three of them up. Louis tries to pick up his gun and Gabby shoots it. Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers hear the shot and race over to see what is happening.

 

 

            Roy watches from the trees until he sees Gabby make a citizen's arrest and leave with his prisoners and then he rides down to Prentiss and Belknap. He picks up his guns from the ground where Gabby has thrown them. Bob and the Pioneers arrive and Bob takes charge.

 

 

            He decides to hide Prentiss at the old line camp and he takes Roy along to keep an eye on him.

 

 

            Meanwhile, Gabby has brought his prisoners to town to jail. Julie, watching from the street, runs up to McCall to let him know.

 

 

            McCall phones Kirby and orders him to meet him at the jail. He forces Kirby to tell the sheriff to let the two prisoners go free.

 

 

            Back at his office, McCall bawls his deputies out until Meade reminds him that Sloane seemed a bit funny to Julie.

 

 

            He questions Julie who remembers the incident in the hotel when "Sloane" forgot which room was his. McCall, suspicious now, sends her to where the real Sloane is hiding out.

 

 

            Up at the line shack, Bob Nolan and the Pioneers settle the wounded Prentiss on one of the beds and make plans to do some vigilante work on McCall and his phony deputies. And, Belnap adds, get rid of Kirby.

 

 

             Roy tries to persuade them that hurting Kirby would hurt Anne but they refuse to listen.

 

 

            Bob orders them to tie Roy up but he dives out a window and escapes. The Pioneers mount and ride to try to catch him.

 

 

            Anne hears the gunshots and watches the action from a hill.

 

 

            Roy evades the Pioneers temporarily (with the aid of some of the prettiest stunt riding by an unnamed double.)

 

 

            Anne sees Roy enter her old ranch house and follows him inside.

 

 

            Roy has found a loose brick in the fireplace behind which was hiding a tin box. He opens the box to find the receipt for the money Anne's father is supposed to have pilfered.

 

 

            Just then, Anne walks in with her gun leveled. She does not believe Roy's explanation and she doesn't believe he is Roy Rogers. She decides to take him to Bob Nolan.

 

 

             Frustrated and desperate because time is wasting while Nolan is calling out all the ranchers to ride against the Judge, Roy reminds her of different things around the house that only Roy Rogers, not Sloane, would know. He sees an old guitar and sings "Remember Me".

 

 

            Convinced at last, Anne holsters her gun. Roy asks her to ride to the line shack to tell Bob and the ranchers what is going on while Roy heads to town to face McCall with the receipt.

 

 

            Unfortunately, Anne is unable to convince Bob and the ranchers that Roy is Roy Rogers, not Sloane.

 

 

            When he reaches town, Roy runs up to Judge Kirby's office and shows him the receipt. Now that the Judge's hands aren't tied, he is anxious to right the wrongs he's been forced to allow and they head for McCall's office.

 

 

            The Judge asks for a quit claim for the Prentiss Ranch and, when McCall refuses, Roy holds him at gunpoint and forces him to fill it out.

 

 

            Outside, Julie drives up with the real Sloane as a passenger.

 

 

            Gabby, thinking Sloane is Roy and, wondering where he got the black eye, accompanies Sloane to McCall's office.

 

 

            On the way up, Sloane hits Gabby over the head with his revolver, knocking him out. Quietly walking up to McCall's door, he breaks a window and shoots Kirby. Roy herds Gabby and Kirby out by another door. Sloane and McCall chase them, joined by all the deputies.

 

 

            Roy hides Gabby and Kirby in the livery stable and then, in a nice touch, a gunfight takes place at the OK Corral.

 

 

            Julie watches from around a corner of a building. Bob Nolan and the ranchers arrive and a sharpshooter in a tree focuses on Bob. Roy shoots the man out of the tree.

 

 

            When Bob shoots Sloane and McCall gives up, Julie runs to the car and leaves town.

 

 

            Just then Anne gallops up. Bob is forced to tell her that he has shot her boyfriend while a grinning Roy walks up behind him. Bob does a double take. 

 

 

            Later, with his arm in a sling, Kirby faces the ranchers and gives up his position as Judge.

 

 

            Belknap and the ranchers refuse to let him resign because they now understand why Kirby had acted as he had.

 

 

            Outside, Bob Nolan and Sons of the Pioneers sing Faithful Pal o' Mine while Roy makes plans with Anne to return after the rodeos are over and make the old partnership of Rogers and Kirby a reality again. Roy sings the rest of the song as he and Gabby ride out of town.

 

 

 



Publicity & Production Stills

 

Calin Coburn Collection © 2004

 

Courtesy of Fred Sopher

 

 

Beryl Wallace

 

 

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant 

 

Private Collection

 

 


 

Posters

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant

 

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant

 

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant

 

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant

 

Courtesy of Les Adams

 

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant

 

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant

 

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant

 

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

Courtesy of Bruce Hickey

 

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