Cast & Crew
George "gabby" Hayes
The once prosperous Whittaker City has fallen upon hard times, and Mayor Gabby Whittaker fears that his friends, including ranchers Roy Rogers and Carol Stevens, are going to be bankrupted. The town's hopes lie in the re-opening of a gold mine once worked by Carol's late father, but Carol cannot interest any investors. Roy decides to ask Peter Moreland, John McMahon and Harold Prentiss, the three businessmen Carol has petioned for aid, to Whittaker City's annual "Spirit of the West" festival, which features a ride of the vaqueros. The businessmen are delighted with the opportunity to ride with the vaqueros and cowboys for ten days, but just before the festival begins, criminal Joe Keenan and his gang arrive in Whittaker City. Joe is looking for a hideout, but upon learning of the upcoming visit, decides to kidnap Moreland, McMahon and Prentiss for a large ransom. Using a false name, Joe joins in the ride when the three businessmen arrive, and although they enjoy the adventure, Joe constantly disparages the old-fashioned fun and methods. The stopping point of the first day's ride is Carol's ranch, where she hosts a fiesta. Carol, Roy and Gabby confess to their visitors that their invitation was motivated by financial concerns and show them the mine samples. The men are impressed, for the mine contains tungsten, a mineral needed for the war effort. The next day, Roy escorts the businessmen to Carol's mine for a closer inspection, and while he is gone, Joe entices Roy's pals, The Sons of the Pioneers, to stage a fake holdup for him, which he films with a 16mm camera. After the Sons join Roy at the mine, Joe and his men surround them, tie them up and kidnap Moreland, McMahon and Prentiss. Joe then rushes back to Carol's ranch and uses the film as proof that Roy and his friends committed the crime. Carol and Gabby reluctantly believe the phony evidence, for they know that Roy was having financial problems, and Sheriff Benton and his posse begin to search for the criminals and their victims. The next morning, Roy and his friends succeed in freeing themselves from their bonds, then go to Carol's ranch. As she is telling them about the film, Carol realizes that Roy and the three businessmen were not in the scenes, which substantiates Roy's claims that they were at the mine and the film is fake. While Joe's men set up camp in an old hideout shown to them by Ace Brody, a former cattle rustler, Carol steals the film from Joe's room. As Carol is showing the film to Benton, Gabby drops off the ransom money at the appointed spot. Roy captures one of the criminals and Gabby sends off a homing pigeon with a map of their location to his young friend Bobby. Pat, one of Roy's friends, brings the note to Benton, who then releases the rest of the Sons, whom he had apprehended. Everyone rushes to the old cave hideout, which Joe is preparing to blow up. While the others are freeing the prisoners, Roy chases after Joe and his two accomplices, who are trying to escape in a car. With his horse "Trigger," Roy is able to prove to Joe that sometimes old methods are superior to new technology as he captures the gang. Soon after, Roy, Gabby and Carol join the three businessmen as they finish the vaquero ride in order to celebrate their new partnership.
George "gabby" Hayes
The Sons Of The Pioneers:
A 9 December 1941 Hollywood Reporter story about the effects on film production of the United States' entry into WWII noted that after the Army ordered the grounding of private planes, production on South of Santa Fe was delayed until the script was re-written to eliminate the need for three small planes. Although Motion Picture Herald Prod Digest release charts list the picture's release date as February 17, 1942, a February 20, 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that the film would have its "world premiere" that night at the opening of the Pony Express Theatre in Hollywood, with "the event being aired over KMTR." The Daily Variety review noted that the film had been seen at the Pony Express on 22 February and listed the running time as 65 min. Modern sources include Jack O'Shea, Merrill McCormack and Spade Cooley in the cast.